5 Unknown Chinese Car Brands You Might Be Driving In 2013

zhonghua by brilliance chinese car

Photo: Flickr/Marc van der Chijs

The Chinese didn’t invent the car. That was Karl Friedrich Benz.They didn’t invent the assembly line. That was Ransom Olds.

Nor did they play a part in the development of the airbag, ABS or fluffy dice.

But that hasn’t stopped the Chinese from jumping head first into the development of their own car brands.

And no, I’m not talking about simply buying existing car brands such as MG, Rover and Volvo.

Today, on the roads of China there are millions of Chinese designed and made cars that, tomorrow, you may also be driving.

Here are just a few potentials:

#1 Zhonghua by Brilliance

Brilliance is a double joint venture between BMW, for cars, and Toyota for minibuses. In 2003 they started manufacturing BMW-branded sedans in China, and now manufacturer their own brand called 'Zhonghua' -- literally 'China China'.

In 2007 the Brilliance's BS6 was rated one star, in a possible five, after German ADAC performed crash tests.

Earlier, in 2001, the founding chairman, Yang Rong, was proclaimed China's third richest businessman. A year later he fled to the USA. Nevertheless, this is a popular brand in China.

#2 BYD

BYD stands for 'Build your dreams', and living by this mantra, the company grew from being one of the world's largest mobile-phone battery manufacturers into a Berkshire Hathaway invested, Daimler joint ventured, green car poster-child.

Unfortunately, in May of 2012 a BYD e6 taxi operating in the southern city of Shenzhen caught fire, killing all three passengers after it was hit by a drunk driver, in a Nissan GT-R travelling at over 112 miles/hr (180 km/ hr).

The drunk driver fled the scene, only to turn himself into the police shortly after, minus any signs of being in a crash. *Curious eyebrow raise*.

A later investigation into the taxi fire cleared BYD, but by this time the brand damage was already done.

#3 Chery

Chery began the production of cars in 1999 and began exporting from 2001.

Barely out of diapers, the company was involved in controversy after GM Korea accused Chery for copying the Daewoo Matiz to produce the Chery QQ, probably the company's most well known model.

A lawsuit was later settled in 2005, but clearly Chery did well because QQs are still everywhere!

#4 FAW

Originally known as 'First Automobile Works', FAW produced China's first domestically produced passenger car, the Hong Qi, literally meaning Red Flag, in 1958 and is now one of the 'Top 4' Chinese automakers, thanks to its 1990 partnership with Volkswagen.

The company also produces a Mazda look-alike, right down to a very similar badge, due in part to a failed joint venture with the Japanese firm.

#5 Geely

Want to see some of China's odder automobiles?

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