Chi­nese revo­lu­tion

The first Chi­nese cars are on the way to Aus­tralia, write PAUL GOVER and NEIL DOWL­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE first Chi­nese cars in Aus­tralian show­rooms will wear Geely badges. Geely is ex­pected to beat Ch­ery to the punch, thanks to a 15-year dis­tri­bu­tion agree­ment that has just been signed by Perth mega-dealer John Hughes. It will put cars in his show­rooms in Fe­bru­ary.

Full-scale sales through­out Aus­tralia should be­gin in the third quar­ter next year, though Hughes is still fi­nal­is­ing his dis­tri­bu­tion plan and sign­ing dealers.

‘‘I think we’ll be the first Chi­nese passenger car to come to Aus­tralia. I don’t think any­one should bring cars in Novem­ber or De­cem­ber, be­cause the duty drops in Jan­uary, so we’ll be first,’’ Hughes says.

‘‘We will land the first two eval­u­a­tion cars in Septem­ber. We’ll go from there. I’m kick­ing them off in WA be­cause the Chi­nese are anx­ious to get them in as quickly as pos­si­ble.’’

Hughes re­fuses to talk about spe­cific prices or num­bers but con­firms he will have the Geely MK, a Corolla-sized com­pact.

‘‘I’m not go­ing to talk fig­ures. On price we will be com­pet­i­tive with the (South) Kore­ans but with more fea­tures. Read into that what you will,’’ he says. ‘‘I be­lieve the se­cret to suc­cess is to un­der-prom­ise and over-de­liver.’’

The Geely agency is the sec­ond dis­tri­bu­tion deal for Hughes, who be­gan im­port­ing the the­nun­known Hyundais from South Korea in 1986.

He even­tu­ally be­came the world’s big­gest Hyundai dealer.

‘‘I be­lieve firmly in the fu­ture of the Chi­nese prod­uct. For me, it’s not a ques­tion of why, it’s a ques­tion of why not?’ ’’ he says.

The first ship­ment of about 500 Geely cars will ar­rive in Jan­uary as part of an ini­tial or­der of 1000. But there is no time frame yet on how long it will take to sell them.

Hughes is more con­cerned about get­ting his Chi­nese dis­tri­bu­tion right.

‘‘It will take time to set up the net­work in the east­ern states. Even June next year might be too op­ti­mistic,’’ he says.

‘‘I’m think­ing half-a-dozen dealers each in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney, with ma­jor coun­try as well. But I don’t want to ‘over-deal­erise’, even though we need to get the pen­e­tra­tion right.’’

The Geely (pro­nounced Jee-lee) MK 1.5 has two airbags, a 1.5-litre front-drive en­gine and the choice of a five-speed man­ual or four­speed au­to­matic.

Gee whiz: the Geely MK 1.5 (above) comes in ei­ther a fivespeed man­ual (left) or four­speed au­to­matic.

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