By John Tagliabue, New York Times News Service | September 23, 2007

PALAZZOLO SULL’OGLIO, Italy - They have names like the Brilliance BS6, the Landwind Fashion, or the improbable Hover Wingle, and though these sedans, vans, and sport utility vehicles are hardly as familiar to Europeans as, say, a Volkswagen Golf, they are beginning to show up on European roads.

“I’ve got air conditioning, ABS brakes, and air bags,” said Carlo Scalvini, describing his Hover, a big and boxy sport utility vehicle built by the Great Wall Motor Co., with headquarters in Baoding in eastern China. “And the price is competitive: You pay 10,000 euros less in the end,” more than $13,000.

The enthusiasm of people like Scalvini could influence the global auto industry and China’s place in it. China’s quiet inroads into Europe are the first test of rich markets by Chinese automakers as they build dealer networks and deliver small shipments of cars to test the reaction of drivers and auto industry experts.

Many of the dealers who have signed on with the Chinese previously worked with the Japanese and the South Koreans, and so have experience in coaxing Europeans to purchase cars with unfamiliar names and unusual looks, but sweet prices.

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