October 5, 2010

'With this beauty, you could winch
all the way to China …'

A recent advertisement by our Superwinch importer, Traxion Distribution, has caught my eye – as a good ad should. It warned of the perceived perils of buying a lemon of a winch. Maybe they mean their American rivals, but I'm wondering whether some of the acid might be intended for Chinese brands that have suddenly become serious players in our market. There may be some good products among the Chinese hordes that are threatening the comfortable market domination by Superwinch and Warn, the Big Two. But I also have sympathy for what Traxion might be trying to say. Superwinch, Warn and Ramsey have been around for decades, their strengths and weaknesses well known. Parts and knowledgeable service are easily found.

I have seen, and had pitches made, for various Chinese brands whose pricing, specifications and physical appearance look really good – almost too good to be true in the odd instance. Several brands are having both their mettle and metal tested in winch challenges and other hard four-wheel-driving where some will stand up well, while others may not. But working well now is one thing. Will these products be backed over the long term by service and parts infrastructure as good as the big American brands, through either official or unofficial channels? How will they treat warranty claims? How will they perform after years of hard use in local conditions? I don't know and neither does anyone else.

Recently, I spoke to an engineer who has had a number of Chinese winches apart. From his observations, and from what he's picked up from colleagues, some (but not all) are almost identical in design and he suggests may be products of  badge engineering – built in the same factory with minor cosmetic and name differences. Not that that's an issue, General Motors to name but one, has been doing it with cars for many decades.

Although I probably wouldn't buy a Chinese winch, I'm not arguing that you shouldn't, just be careful, especially if you're looking to use it for years and years. The other thing is that the prices of some of the Chinese winches are so keen that the American brands will have to keep their pencils very sharp.

3 comments:

  1. Agree with most of what you say, but when a Chinese winch is half the price of an American one, and seems to work fine, it's very tempting. BTW I had quite a few problems with the Warn I used to have.

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  2. As usual, full of Bullshit.

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  3. The Internet's a big place, Anonymous, there must be some other site you can find where the postings are more to your liking.

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