HAAH’s business plan shifted because it tried to herald Chinese vehicles. At one level, HAAH labored to import vehicles from Zotye Automobile Co. It later proposed assembling crossovers within the U.S. from its newer Chinese companion, Chery Automobile Co. HAAH created two new U.S. manufacturers, Vantas and T-GO, to market the Chery crossovers.
For some time final year, Hale and different HAAH executives touted a “Made in America” plan as a means to scale back the impression of the 27.5 p.c tariff on Chinese auto imports whereas additionally making a consumer-friendly message of native hires. But a U.S. manufacturing unit was by no means introduced and HAAH returned to the import plan this year.
One vendor who had been enthusiastic concerning the “Made in America” label was Larry Battison, vendor principal at Battison Honda in Oklahoma City. He positioned deposits for 2 gross sales factors for a complete of $300,000.
During the course of 2020, HAAH had mentioned it was doing a nationwide seek for an current manufacturing unit to assemble the Chery vehicles utilizing semi-knockdown kits, that are principally containers with all of the components wanted to build the vehicles. HAAH promised that native content material would enhance over time because it established a U.S. provide chain.
HAAH mentioned it narrowed down its website search to three potentialities, nevertheless it by no means introduced a manufacturing unit alternative.
“I’m just deeply disappointed,” Battison mentioned final week after HAAH pulled the plug on the deal. “The whole time we were strung along about finding a plant to build cars or assemble kits in the United States and that they were looking for a parts distribution warehouse. But it was all talk and very little action.”
Battison mentioned he understood the chance concerned and that he was extra upset concerning the optimistic message by HAAH proper up till the enterprise fell aside.
“I don’t think it was fraud, but I think it was making some assumptions that were overly optimistic and leading the dealer body to think they were further along than they really were,” Battison mentioned.
Hale mentioned Battison and different sellers had been by no means misled. Hale pointed to potential Vantas and T-GO sellers who had been extra understanding of the challenges HAAH confronted, equivalent to George DeMontrond, president of DeMontrond Auto Group within the Houston space.
DeMontrond mentioned final week that he was upset concerning the failure to convey the brand new manufacturers to the U.S. market and about dropping his group’s deposit on 5 gross sales factors. But he would not blame Hale and HAAH.
“My feeling about Duke and HAAH is still very positive,” DeMontrond mentioned. “I think they did everything they possibly could to make the deal happen.”