Spoilt for choice ... 50 car makers
AUSTRALIA is heading rapidly towards a halfcentury and the upcoming 50 has nothing to do with any much-need batting improvement by the Australian cricket team.
The official car company count in this country is now at 46 and destined to hit 50 around the end of the year.
Chery and Geely of China are already committed, McLaren has solid plans for November, and Opel also intends to land as a standalone 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.
Perhaps Tata will also bring the Nano . . . This boom in brands hits home this week during interviews with a range of 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 like 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.
Reilly also concedes Australia will provide valuable feedback for Opel’s export plans to a range of other countries.
Toyota used Australia as a test case from the 1960s and now the Korean juggernaut - Hyundai and Kia - is also learning lessons Down Under that it will feed back to base.
On the Chinese front, Detroit sees BYD — another of the country’s aggressive exporters — promising big things for the USA 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 a beachhead in Western Australia before expanding to the east coast in 2012.
And McLaren? It is likely to sell less than 50 cars in Australia this year but will make a definite impact as it goes head-to-head with Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Its MP4-12C coupe is one of the few cars I cannot wait to drive in 2011.