Trickle of Chi­nese im­ports is set to be­come a flood

NT News - Motoring - - CARSSPORTGUIDE - By PAUL GOVER

CHEAP Chi­nese cars could flood Aus­tralia in com­ing years — with a grow­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies queu­ing for ac­cess to this coun­try’s show­rooms.

Three Chi­nese brands are al­ready es­tab­lished in the pas­sen­ger-ve­hi­cle ranks — Ch­ery, Great Wall and Geely — with Fo­ton and JAC sell­ing trucks, Higer with buses . . . and all look­ing for fu­ture growth.

Great Wall is eas­ily the most suc­cess­ful to date, with 4838 sales to the end of May mostly thanks to its utes, with Ch­ery on 696 and Geely not in­cluded in the na­tional VFACTS to­tal de­spite tak­ing a toe­hold in Western Aus­tralia last year.

Carsguide has learned of an­other six con­tenders and be­lieves they are al­ready ne­go­ti­at­ing with free­lance im­porters about set­ting up lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion.

‘‘The Chi­nese Em­bassy has contacted us about find­ing lo­cal part­ners for six car com­pa­nies,’’ a se­nior source at the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries re­veals to Carsguide. ‘‘We are try­ing to help. ‘‘They seem pretty keen.’’ The im­porter with the strong­est Chi­nese ties, Ateco Au­to­mo­tive, al­ready has Ch­ery and Great Wall on its books and com­pany chief Neville Crich­ton ad­mits he is look­ing to spread his in­flu­ence. Ateco has re­cently lost the lo­cal agency for Alfa Romeo and Fiat, which were re­claimed by their own­ers at Fiat Chrysler Group, and pre­vi­ously im­ported both Suzuki and Kia ve­hi­cles be­fore sell­ing the fran­chises back to head of­fice.

Crich­ton will not dis­cuss his tar­gets — but a team from Ateco was one of the Aus­tralian groups in China re­cently for the Bei­jing Mo­tor Show.

There are now seven Great Wall mod­els in Aus­tralia but none are pas­sen­ger cars, while Ch­ery has three, with the J11 SUV sell­ing best with 374 de­liv­er­ies up to May.

The Geely im­porter, Perth’s John Hughes, will push a big­ger range of the com­pany’s lat­est mod­els in 2013.

Two other brands, JAC and Maxus, are be­ing han­dled by the im­port com­pany WMC, which be­gan with Higer buses.

JAC is begin­ning its Aus­tralian push with small trucks, plan­ning to fol­low with vans and a ute in 2013, and likely pas­sen­ger cars in late 2014.

Maxus, part of the gi­ant Shang­hai Au­to­mo­tive group that in­cludes MG, is start­ing with vans but it has per­haps the great­est po­ten­tial of all with its range of cars.

Com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles like the Great Wall V240 util­ity are the best-known face of Chi­ne­se­made ve­hi­cles here, but huge ex­pan­sion is planned in the pas­sen­ger car seg­ment.

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