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In 2011 the Arab Spring took Tunisia, Egypt and Libya by storm. But aside from overthrown governments, what really interests us car enthusiasts is to know how well Chinese manufacturers are doing in these countries. If you are a regular reader of BSCB you will know that Chery has been selling Speranza-branded, locally produced cars by the bucket in Egypt. The Libyan Civil War is giving us another piece of the puzzle in what could well be a significant event in the history of Chinese car manufacturing.
For decades, the Toyota Hilux has had a monopoly on the market for rebel groups and terrorists from Afghanistan to South America, thanks to its ability to be modified to fit any sort of heavy gun or basic missile systems. In Libya, it had become a key utensil in waging war when the ‘Toyota War’ between Libya and Chad in 1987 was largely undertaken by the Hilux from both sides, carrying armed men through thick and thin whilst armed to the teeth.
However the current generation Hilux had become too complex to operate and fix, so when it came to choose a cheaper, simpler but reliable pick-up to fit their heavy artillery on, Libyan rebels picked the Zhongxing (or ZX Auto) GrandTiger, especially as 5,000 of them had recently been sent to the Libyan government. Based on the previous generation Hilux, the ZX Auto GrandTiger could help alter the perception that Chinese cars are unreliable. After all, if Libyan rebels could overthrow a government with it, surely it can handle any other type of task.
Completely overshadowing the Hilux, the GrandTiger was featured on worldwide TV screens reporting on the Libyan revolution for a solid 6 months. And if Toyota was concerned about the controversial success of the Hilux during the Libya-Chad war, ZX Auto is fully embracing the marketing opportunity the success of the GrandTiger in Libya offers. At the Beijing Auto Show earlier this year, ZX Auto’s stand featured giant LED screens showing scenes of the Libyian civil war on a loop…