China's Zotye rolls out U.S. dealers for 2020 launch

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Zotye USA named its first U.S. franchised dealers Saturday at the NADA Show, a group that plans 19 stores and could be among the first U.S. dealers to sell Chinese vehicles under a Chinese automaker brand name.
Among the group that has signed agreements to sell vehicles from Zotye (pronounced ZOH'-tay) Automobile International Co. are veteran dealers from numerous brands and states.
  • Irv Stein, a Volvo dealer, along with Jack Stein, Ben Stein and Noah Sullum, plans two stores in Berwyn, Pa., and Doylestown, Pa.
  • Jeff Stoops, a Buick-GMC dealer, plans a store in Indianapolis.
  • Randy Stoops, a Buick-GMC dealer, plans one store in Muncie, Ind.
  • Roger Scholfield, a Honda dealer, plans one dealership in Wichita, Kan.
  • Mary Margaret Latham, a dealer with Volvo, Subaru and Hyundai stores, plans one Zotye store in Wilmington, N.C.
  • Larry Battison, a Honda dealer, will open two stores in Oklahoma City.
  • George Doetsch, a Ford-Lincoln dealer, plans three stores in the Howard County, Md., Baltimore and Washington area; Elkton, Md.; and the Annapolis, Glen Burnie and Dundalk, Md., area.
  • Ron Fornaca, a Subaru dealer, plans one store in San Diego.
  • Sam Brnovich, a former Hyundai Motor America executive and CEO of BWI Auto Ventures, plans six stores in Sarasota/Venice, Fla.; Port Charlotte/Fort Myers, Fla.; Las Vegas; Los Angeles/Chino Hills, Calif.; and Bakersfield, Calif.
  • George Whitlow, a Lexus dealer, will open a store in Richmond, Va.
Zotye USA was created in October after parent company HAAH Automotive Holdings of Lake Forest, Calif., signed a distributorship agreement with Zotye.

The company plans to enter 80 top U.S. markets, with 300 to 325 sales points and sales of a Chinese-made crossover by the end of 2020. While Zotye officials won't say what that vehicle will be, there are hints it is the T600 crossover, which has been sold in China since 2013.

Guangzhou Automobile Group also is meeting with prospective dealers at NADA, for the second year in a row. The Chinese automaker pushed back its targeted launch in the U.S. until the first half of 2020, in part because of the U.S. government's trade war with China.

Duke Hale, CEO of HAAH and Zotye USA, called the company's first U.S. dealers powerful with the brands they represent and their accomplishments.

Whitlow, who was among the first 24 Lexus dealers in the country and runs a single point today, said he is looking to add to his portfolio on the opposite end of the market. Read more...
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