Will the first Chinese cars in the U.S. be American?

Chinese automakers have been having a hard time getting their vehicles approved for sale in the United States, not to mention setting up an infrastructure to sell them. But a car built in China might be headed for the United States in an unexpected way. Recent rumors have suggested DaimlerChrysler is in talks with Chery Automobile to built cheaper, more profitable cars. The Dodge Hornet is expected to be the first product of this relationship.

BusinessWeek takes a look at the proposal, and its implications. "Because of the high cost of running plants manned by the unionized United Auto Workers, combined with the low profit margins on small cars, U.S. automakers haven't been able to manufacture small cars profitably in the U.S. in decades," writes David Kiley. "Though the cost of importing parts and components into China and shipping cars out of the country has been increasing, the cheap labor costs and lack of health-care expenses makes the country an obvious choice for building small cars."