Chery ripe for the picking
THE second Chinese car maker to land in Australia had a low-key start as the Australian new-car market ‘‘settled’’, says number one brand Toyota.
March was Chinese brand Chery’s first month on sale, with the brand retailing 53 units of the $11,990 driveaway J1 hatchback and 166 of the J11 2WD SUVs nationally.
Ateco Automotive — importers of Chery and Great Wall — spokesman Daniel Cotterill says the Chinese brand is building up its network and expects volumes to grow as the dealerships — now numbering 45 across the country — are 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 says.
Mr Cotterill says the Great Wall brand took 18 months to sell its first 10,000 cars in Australia but expects the second 10,000 will be sold during the 2011 calendar year.
The Great Wall brand — which at present sells only light commercials and SUVs — sold 537 units last month, taking its year-to-date total to 1654.
Proposed interest rate hikes, higher petrol prices and fewer fleet sales may impact on new vehicle sales but Toyota senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner says the absence of buyer incentives has let the market return to its natural level. ‘‘In 2010, the industry enjoyed a record March as a result of the improving economy and the final influence of government incentive,’’ he says.
The Adelaide-built Holden Commodore remained the nation’s most popular car and sales and marketing executive director John Elsworth says Commodore and Cruze sales figures 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 says.
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 YTD totals, with only the compact and luxury SUV sales segments showing positive signs in month and YTD sales over 2010 numbers.
SUV sales grew in March and overall for the year so far — almost 2400 units up the first quarter of 2010 — thanks to an increase in private buyers.
Light commercial sales remained buoyant, up just over 9 per cent for March— a 1547 vehicle increase— and 2.2 per cent ahead for the year so far.
FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar says the demand for new vehicles is ‘‘broadly consistent’’ with other economic indicators and sales remain robust and ‘‘well above one million units over the past 12 months’’.
Chinese car makers expect volumes to grow