Forget Chinese Internet companies for a minute. According to USA Today, American auto companies like General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F), and DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) may soon have a run for their money. Imagine a car with a "Made in China" label and an affordable price tag.

The American auto industry has often come up short when customers assessed it on quality, price, or both, as one could argue concerning Honda's popularity. In 1986, Korea's Hyundai entered a market where most other car makers had left the cheaper, entry-level segment. Hyundai filled that void, giving Americans a way to buy a car on the cheap.

The USA Today article said these Chinese cars should cost $9,000 to $15,000 -- interestingly, not much less than entry-level Hyundai or Kia models. So the environment might not be quite as friendly for a low-priced entrant as it might have been for Hyundai.

Before getting too excited, it's important to note that the article focused on Arizona's David Shelburg, who hopes to distribute them to dealerships starting in California and his home state. He's had a tough time so far, trying to sell Chinese-made cars here for 10 years.

In fact, the article said that lawsuits dogged him, to the extent that he has been banned from selling cars in Texas. It went on to say that federal officials say he still has a ways to go in terms of compliance. Emissions tests are required, as well as proof they have U.S.-required safety equipment in all vehicles.

Regardless of whether Shelburg's attempts are successful, it seems certain we'll be seeing Chinese cars on American roads. It's only a matter of time. Much has been made of American market opportunity in China -- Chinese Internet concerns are all the rage, for one thing. Meanwhile, think of all the ways our companies hope to sell to the burgeoning, attractive, increasingly upwardly mobile Chinese population -- even credit cards.

On the other hand, let's face it: While we may think a lot about what we can sell to China, that country's got goods it's dying to sell to us. At any U.S. retailer, you'll likely find an array of inexpensive merchandise marked "Made in China," which may turn off some consumers who feel the pinch of outsourced labor. However, if the quality and safety of the cars is acceptable, it's not hard to imagine plenty of Americans snapping up cars called Solo, Merrie, Safe, and Sing -- especially if the price is right.

Are you looking to buy a car? Talk to other Fools about the ins and outs of buying cars on the Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned. A friend's Hyundai Excel made her high school days more mobile.