A tree full of Ch­erys

We’ll take only a small slice of the pie, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

BY ANY­ONE’S es­ti­mate, one brand launch­ing 16 cars at the same time should pro­vide an im­porter with a long list of must-have mod­els. But Ateco Au­to­mo­tive chief Ric Hull re­mains firm on what ve­hi­cles will be avail­able when Ch­ery cars ar­rive here next year.

The Ch­ery com­pany showed an im­pres­sive range of light and small cars, off-road­ers and vans at the Bei­jing Mo­tor Show.

But Hull is com­mit­ted to a small-is-best, grad­u­ated launch into the lo­cal mar­ket.

Among the pas­sen­ger cars launched in Bei­jing was a fam­ily of 45kW 1.3-litre cars called the Faira five dolls: a city hatch, sedan, coupe and cabrio cu­ri­ously named the BB, HH, NN and YY and an A3 sedan and hatch the same size as the VW Golf. They are the ones that caught Hull’s eye. To make the most of the al­pha­bet, Ch­ery also has a chunky small wagon called the JJ.

Hull was also im­pressed by the mid-size Eas­tar 2.0-litre and the V6 sedan range, and the Ri­ich8 van and peo­ple mover, which could ri­val the Toy­ota HiAce van.

But Ateco will launch only three Ch­ery mod­els next year, the 1.1-litre and 1.3-litre A1, the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre A5 sedan and the Tiggo four-wheel drive.

The Tiggo is ex­pected to be avail­able with petrol en­gines and pos­si­bly a Fiat-sourced 1.9-litre tur­bod­iesel.

‘‘The cars are still to com­ply with Aus­tralian De­sign Rules, but we think that won’t be a prob­lem,’’ Hull says. ‘‘We’re still plan­ning for a launch in the first quar­ter of next year.’’

The lack of safety fea­tures on Chi­nese cars has been a con­cern for some. But Hull says Ch­ery is aware of the de­mands of a ma­ture mar­ket such as Aus­tralia and the needs of buy­ers who ex­pect the latest safety gear.

‘‘I get a sense that we will be close to the Kore­ans in sticker price, but I think we’ll of­fer more, par­tic­u­larly in equip­ment and safety,’’ Hull says.

Hull has not ruled out elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-skid brakes, cur­tain airbags, a full suite of in-car elec­tron­ics and high-end stereos be­ing stan­dard.

He has a proven track record with start-ups, hav­ing been a key player in the in­tro­duc­tion of Hyundai, Dae­woo and Kia in Aus­tralia.

He will fol­low a sim­i­lar for­mula with Ch­ery, with es­tab­lished deal­ers and a com­mit­ted growth plan.

‘‘We did think about do­ing some­thing dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ently,’’ he says, ‘‘but it will prob­a­bly be a con­ven­tional dealer net­work and con­ven­tional launch.

‘‘We like the idea of get­ting es­tab­lished deal­ers be­cause it gives us some cred­i­bil­ity.

‘‘Clearly we have to get vol­ume up into the thou­sands quickly to make a busi­ness of it.’’

He ex­pects to launch with 50 to 60 deal­ers and even­tu­ally build that to 120.

He is im­pressed by the qual­ity of the Faira hatch and the A3 hatch and sedan, but th­ese cars may be some way off.

Ch­ery, the No.4 car­maker in China, and Geely, an­other front-run­ner, are the Chi­nese brands con­sid­ered the most likely to suc­ceed in ma­ture ex­port mar­kets.

How­ever, both are con­cen­trat­ing on the de­mand­ing Chi­nese mar­ket. A mil­lion peo­ple now have driver’s li­cences and plan to buy a car soon, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

Ch­ery chair­man Yin Tongyao says the US mar­ket is also firmly in the com­pany’s sights.

Ch­ery signed with Chrysler last year to build a low-cost car to be sold through the Dodge brand in North Amer­ica.

Eye-catch­ing: (left) the A3 fam­ily car from Ch­ery, (be­low) one of the smaller Faira five dolls and (bot­tom) the Tiggo four-wheel drive.

BEI­JING MO­TOR SHOW

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