China's Fast-Moving Vehicles

Ready for the next export to challenge Detroit? Low-cost Chinese cars are revving their engines in hopes to become the next automotive upstart that takes the wheel in the U.S.

Mel Rapton doesn't know how to pronounce the name of the Chinese company whose automobiles he would like to import and perhaps sell at his Honda dealership in Sacramento, Calif. He doesn't know what styles he'll promote, what he'll charge or how exactly he'll persuade Americans to buy a car made in China—one that isn't a Hot Wheels toy, that is.

Rapton does know that when he took a tour of the Hebei Zhongxing Automobile factory south of Beijing last November, he watched workers weld vehicle components together by hand—an assembly scene out of the '50s. But after his son test-drove...

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