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The Mercury Cars Guide : July 25th 2009
12— Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, July 25, 2009 Chinese prepare to invade CONTENDER: 2008 Ateco Chery A1 hatch. Rival car companies battendownas China starts its second Aussie invasion. Neil Dowling reports from Beijing change our perception of value. Atleast fivenewChinese passen- A ger cars and one 4WD are going through homologation to meet Australian design rules. While the move appears sudden, it actually is China’s second wave of Australian-bound vehicles after the surprising success of two com- mercial utes. Imported by Ateco Automotive, the Great Wall Motors (GWM) utes sold 150 units within three weeks. Now, says Ateco managing di- rector Ric Hull, attention will turn to GWM’s small-car range and variants including a Captiva-sized 4WD to sell at about $25,000 and a seven-seat people mover for about the same price. That will be followed by early 2010 with passenger cars from China’s biggest carmaker, Chery. Exactly what the Chery range will comprise isn’t clear. Mr Hull says the baby A1 model —sized equivalent to the Hyundai Getz—is a definite and will be the first. Ateco is eyeing the Mazda3- sized A3 but it is yet to be homologated for export to Austra- lia. Other car companies are possi- ble entrants into Australia, says Mr Hull, but it isGWMand Chery that have been the most willing. In particular, he states surprise at the keenness of the privately-owned GWM (Chery is owned by five provincial governments) and its ability to react quickly to demands. GWM makes 200,000 vehicles a year and yet has the capacity for 400,000 so it is actively seeking new markets. Last year the company exported 60,000 vehicles to 100 countries but because of the global financial crisis, expects only 50,000 offshore sales this year. Included are 3000 right-hand drive units — South Africa is one of its biggest RHD markets — and this figure is set to increase sub- ROBUST: Chery Tiggo four-wheel drive motor car. stantially as countries including Australia come on board. Since opening its doors in 1990, GWM has sold 600,000 vehicles in China. The domestic demand is so strong that it has continually in- creased factory space and mecha- nised production withGermanand Japanese robots. By 2010, GWM chief executive officer Madam Wang says domes- tic sales will equal export sales. She is hoping for volume in 2010 of 500,000 vehicles. To do this the company must take on board new staff and new ideas. Other car companies are possible entrants into Australia, but it is GWM and Chery that have been the most willing ‘ Current employees total 22,000 but the ranks are continually being swelled. Each year, for example, it accepts 1000 graduate engineers. It has onsite accommodation for 4000 workers with housing adjacent to an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, athletics track with grand- stand surround and indoor bad- minton, basketball and table-tennis facilities. The technology that its vehicles borrow from Mitsubishi is already going through change. The four- cylinder engines are soon to be joined by 3-litre and 3.5-litre V6 petrol engines,a selection of diesels and — within three years, says Madam Wang — electric cars. will be subsidies for buyers.Wesee it as small volume and not easy to develop. Cost is one problem. ‘‘The market in China isn’t definite. We will test the electric cars in domestic delivery trials — mainly inner-city—and we won’t see private use for one to two years.’’ GWM also plans sales of a large car that uses the CHC011 concept car as a base. This saloon, with some profile-styling similar to the Mercedes-Benz CLS, was shown at the factory with a 3-litre V6 petrol engine and six-speed automatic transmission. It is this car that aims to showcase GWM’s future quality. 2011, including V6 turbo-diesels and petrol units at 2.5 and 3-litre capacities. GWM’s electric car may come to ’ the showroom in that year but more likely is a hybrid (2.5-litre V6 petrol and electric motor) for the future Hover H7 SUV. Mr Hull is excited by the pro- spect of an expanding model range and the increasingly sophisticated models. The problem may be pick- ing the ones that best suit the Australian consumer. ‘‘Everything is possible,’’ he says of the model range, ‘‘but it’s just a question of time.’’ ‘‘We will see the single-cab com- mercial ute this year, then the It has already tested a small electric hatchback, the Peri, using a lithium-ion battery and good for a 180km/h range. It will be suc- ceeded by the development of the Kulla with a 160km/h range, which is planned to be improved before domestic sale in 2012. GWM built its first electric car earlier this year and the step didn’t appear to be—as may be usual in China — of its own making. ‘‘The Chinese Government cre- atedapolicy for themanufacture of electric cars,’’ says Madam Wang. In some areas of China, there MadamWangstates thatGWMcan match Lexus quality in seven to eight years. ‘‘We want a BMW-style car that we can get to the market at RMB400,000 (about $80,000) com- pared to a BMW’s price of RMB1 million ($200,000). ‘‘The difference in pricing is a branding issue and some technical issues. ‘‘We can competeonquality with 2-litre cars within five years but in terms of performance,westill have a big gap.’’ New engines are expected in USTRALIAN new car buyers should prepare for a fresh wave of Chi- nese models that aim to NEW WAVE: A model poses next to a new Chinese-made Chery QQ. Hover H3 (4WD wagon) before the end of this year, then the Florid (small car) early next year. ‘‘We are waiting for the turbo- diesel engine that should be avail- able to us in the first quarter of next year. ‘‘GWM don’t make a convention- al automatic but we will get a CVT (continuously-variable transmis- sion) in most models by late 2010. ‘‘We may even delay Florid’s launch so it gets into Australia in manual and automatic CVT ver- sions.’’ Mr Hull is also seriously consid- ering GWM’s people mover — called Cowry in China — and expects a sub-$30,000 drive away price tag. ‘‘We still have work to do on this to get the final configuration and specifications correct,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s a Kia Carnival chaser and we see a huge opportunity in Australia for that.’’ Ateco is also looking at the Phenom, a Florid-size hatch with a radical V-grille design and that goes on sale in China next month. Its forward launch date indicates it will have the best technology avail- able to GWM. Mr Hull says it’s not only tech- nology that improves at each new vehicle launch. ‘‘There is a huge quality step between the GWM SA220 (one of the two utes nowon the Australian market) and a Hover 4WD,’’ he says. ‘‘There’s better panel fit, better trim, improved colour and materi- al selection, updated engines and so on. The Chinese move very fast in comparison to manufacturers from some other countries. ‘‘GWN has a two-year turn- around to create its models while rival firms are four or five years.’’ Mr Hull says Ateco is close to finalising the requirements for rival Chery’s A1 small car that will come with a 1.3-litre engine and likely to cost less than $11,000. ‘‘We won’t launch the (Chery) brand on one car,’’ he says. ‘‘But if we see more in the pipeline than we will be ready to establish dealers. We’re not at that point yet. ‘‘Chery has some interesting passenger cars but it also has an excellent diesel van that would easily fit into the hole left on the Australianmarketbythedemise of the Kia Pregio.’’
July 18th 2009
August 1st 2009