No sooner had we wondered out loud about the problematic issue posed by the brand extension “made in china” than a report by Bloomberg News pointed towards a call for mandatory Federal regulation and oversight of the domestic atv market by an industry that’d fiercely opposed any such meddling in prior years. What changed?
Internet sales. Home delivery. And a tripling in unit sales to around 400,000 in 2006 for a Chinese product which costs roughly a third of their better branded counterparts. Who, by the way, saw same period sales slip by about 30,000 machines to 750,000 atvs. Some might see a trend at work.
Do they have a point in this coincidental conversion in calling for intervention, or is there actually something beyond hypocrisy at work? In a few words, yes. Workmanship, reliability, quality, accountability and inherent safety, on the part of the dealer network that stocks, sells and services not just atvs, but pwcs, utvs, svcs and bikes, along with chain saws, snowblowers and who knows how many similar products.
It’s rare these days to pick up a paper or turn on the t.v. without hearing about this or that problem with a product made in China, even though a great number of products are free — for now — from taint. Take iPod for instance.
Moreover, it’s not like China’s not aware of the problem. Unlike our bureaucratic bunglers holed up in their Washington bunkers, China’s not shy about executing screw-ups, as they did the late Zheng Xiaoyu after he admitted accepting bribes as head of the Chinese version of our FDA.
The problem’s only going to grow, propelled on the one hand by a genuine need to eliminate unsafe products in whatever form — atvs to toothpaste — and on the other by domestic manufacturers with an ax to grind and profits to protect.