Future Cars

China's Zotye Automobile prepares to hawk its cars in the US

Zotye USA will be based in California, and it's now hunting for dealers.

Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

There's already one Chinese automaker determined to bring its cars to the US within the next couple years, but now there are two.

Zotye Automobile announced Tuesday that it will establish a headquarters in the US ahead of setting up a dealer network that will sell the Chinese automaker's cars in the US. The aptly named Zotye USA is currently on the hunt for dealers, but it's already determined that its headquarters will be in Lake Forest, California, to the southeast of Anaheim near Los Angeles.

While the company hasn't offered too many details about what to expect, Zotye USA did confirm that its first US product will be an SUV. In a press release, the company says development and homologation efforts are already underway, and that the vehicle should go on sale in 2020. Initially, all its vehicles will be imported from China.

If you think the outside of the Zotye SR9 looks like a Porsche Macan (and you'd be totally right), wait until you see the inside. Stuff like this won't fly in the US.

Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

A quick trip to Zotye's website shows a nine-car lineup filling segments from subcompacts all the way up to SUVs. One in particular stands out, though -- the Traum Meet3, which bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain German automaker's own products, including the way the upper dashboard is arranged and designed. Many have pointed out Chinese automakers' long tradition of, um, borrowing design inspiration, and hopefully whatever vehicles Zotye brings to the US don't open the company up to intellectual-property lawsuits.

Zotye claims it will be the first Chinese company to sell cars in the US "under its own Chinese brand name." That's because GAC technically beat Zotye to the punch, but in doing so, it decided to drop the Trumpchi brand name it uses in China for... obvious reasons. Zotye doesn't have that problem, at least until we elect President Zot. GAC's cars are believed to hit the market in 2019, just ahead of Zotye's.

If the Zotye name sounds familiar, it should, if you keep up with automotive-industry news. Just about a year ago, Ford announced a $756 million joint venture with Zotye for the purpose of building electric cars in China under a newly established brand. 

Porsche Macan: Here's the real-deal Macan, which is fresh off a midcycle refresh.

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class: Why drive a Traum Meet3 when you can drive the car it's based on?