AUSTRALIA is heading towards a halfcentury and the upcoming figure has nothing to do with our cricket team’s much-needed batting improvement.
The official car company count here is 46 and destined to hit 50 by December.
Chery and Geely of China already are committed, McLaren has solid plans for November, and Opel also intends to land as a stand-alone brand in the final days of 2011 or first thing in 2012.
Putting four more into showrooms will take the total to 50, with more to come as extra Chinese brands get serious about Australia.
This boom in brands hit home this week during interviews with executives at the North American International Motor Show.
Nick Reilly is talking bullishly about the potential for Opel as a stand-alone brand, not just a supplier to Holden with cars such as the Astra and Zafira.
He believes there are cars to be sold and profits available in a country that always seems ready to accept another immigrant.
But Reilly also concedes the Australian patient will provide valuable feedback for Opel’s export plans to other countries.
Toyota used Australia as a test case from the 1960s and now the Korean juggernaut— Hyundai and Kia— is also learning lessons Downunder that it will feed back to base.
Detroit sees BYD— another of China’s aggressive exporters— promising big things for the US in a move that could also play well in Australia.
Chery will hit the ground running this year even if Geely is taking a low-key approach by establishing in Western Australia before expanding to the east coast in 2012.
And McLaren? It is likely to sell fewer than 50 cars in Australia this year but will make a definite impact as it goes head-to-head with Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The grand prix superteam is committed to its road car project and its MP4-12C coupe is one of the few cars I cannot wait to be driving in 2011.