Chery picks settled market
THE second Chinese car brand to land in Australia had a low-key start as the Australian new car market ‘‘settled,’’ according to number one brand Toyota.
March was Chinese brand Chery’s first month on sale, with the brand retailing 53 units of the $11,990 drive-away J1 hatchback and 166 of the J11 2WD SUVs nationally.
Ateco Automotive — importers of Chery and Great Wall — spokesman Daniel Cotterill said the Chinese brand was building up its network and expected volumes to grow as the dealerships — currently numbering 45 across the country — were established.
‘‘We’re in the early stages of setting up the dealer network, those that were set up and had stock sold to our expectations,’’ he said.
Mr Cotterill said the Great Wall brand had taken 18 months to sell its first 10,000 cars in Australia but expected the second 10,000 would be sold during the 2011 calendar year.
The Great Wall brand — which only currently sells light commercials and SUVs — sold 537 units last month, taking its YTD total to 1654.
Proposed interest rate hikes, higher petrol prices and fewer fleet sales may impact on new vehicle sales but market leader Toyota said the absence of buyer incentives had let the market return to its natural level, according to Toyota’s senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner.
‘‘In 2010 the industry enjoyed a record March as a result of the improving economy and the final influence of government incentive,’’ he said.
The Adelaide-built Holden Commodore remained the nation’s most popular car and sales and marketing executive director John Elsworth said Commodore and Cruze sales fig- ures set the tone for a positive year ahead. ‘‘In the small car segment, not only has Cruze had its second best month since launch, sales are up 32 per cent on March last year,’’ he said.
Industry sales figures released yesterday by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries for the first quarter of 2011 show the new vehicle market at 248,464 — down by 3363 sales on the 2010 tallies to the same point.
Light cars and compact SUVs were the only segments to remain ahead of last year’s yearto-date (YTD) totals, with only the compact and luxury SUV sales segments showing positive signs in month and YTD sales over last year’s numbers.
SUV sales grew in March and overall for the year so far — almost 2400 units up the first quarter of 2010.
Light commercial sales remained buoyant, up just over nine per cent for March— a 1547 vehicle increase — and 2.2 per cent ahead for the year so far.