The Kawei Auto K1 midsize pickup truck recently made its debut at the Beijing Auto Show. Kawei Auto belongs to a government-run company, Jiangsu Kawei Automotive Industry Group, and is based within Danyang, Jiangsu. While the company was established over two decades ago, in 1992, its expertise is in fabricating light vehicles for industrial purposes, including buses. Kawei Auto has since gone on to produce 10,000 K1s in just the last year, with plans to expand its factories in order to produce double that amount by the end of 2015.
When asked about its similarities to the Ford F-150, a representative at the auto show stated that the Chinese vehicle’s design is inspired by the F-150 and that “China has to be smart,” while also pointing to an actual Ford F-150 positioned at another booth nearby. Despite the Chinese reputation for trading durability for production costs, these Kawei machines appear rather solid and may be indicative of a serious investment in both money and effort.
- 1850mm (72.83 inch) body width
- 1805mm (71.06 inch) cargo length
- Two-tone leather interior
- Large screen in the center console
- Diesel Engine: 3.2 liter, 6-cylinders with 107 horse power. Caps out at 120 kmph (74.56 mph)
- Gasoline Engine: 2.4 liter, 4-cylinders with 143 horse power. Caps out at 130 kmph (80.78 mph)
- Transmission: 5 speed manual
- Drive-Train: 4×2 Rear wheel drive.
- Wheel-Base: 138-inches
- MSRP: 100,000 Yuan ($16,000 American).
The Chicken Tax
The largest hurdle that the K1 will run into, beyond coaxing Americans to buy a Chinese pickup over an American-made vehicle, is the more tangible issue of the “chicken tax.” This particular piece of legislation, which was passed by LBJ in 1963 as a response to European tariffs against importing U.S. chicken, initially applied to potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks. However, with the passing of time, only light trucks remain applicable. This tax has forced international vehicle manufacturers to work hard at loopholes; cargo and CKD (Complete Knock-Down) versions, which require assembly post-shipment, have been one such workaround, with designations as passenger vehicles being another. Despite the tax, light trucks imported from Canada or Mexico are immune to the chicken tax due to NAFTA conventions.