19th March, 2008
Ateco, the importer of Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Ferrari, Fiat and Maserati products for Australia and New Zealand has extended its interests to cars from China.
The company’s Governing Director, Neville Crichton, announced yesterday (18th March, 2008) that a distributorship agreement for Australia and New Zealand has been signed with Chery Automobile Company.
Ateco first approached Chery almost three years ago. Neville Crichton signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in China with the company in November 2005. The distributorship agreement was executed earlier this month.
Ateco expects to launch three Chery models early next year – a light and a small passenger car plus a small SUV. Chery has four new models to unveil later this year and plans to release 38 new models over the next five years.
Chery built its first car in December 1999 and its one millionth in August 2007. Last year Chery sold 261,000 vehicles domestically and exported a further 120,000. Chery has been China’s leading vehicle exporter for the past five years.
Chery currently has production capacity for 650,000 units a year. Production is planned to go up to a million units over the next couple of years. Chery's factories, covering two million square metres. The company employs 25,000 people including 2,000 in R&D.
There are thought to be some 26 Chinese car makers in joint ventures with global car companies. In addition there are about 20 independent manufacturers of which Chery is the biggest. Chery ranks fourth overall.
Ateco will endeavour to establish a national dealer network for the new brand, providing sufficient interest can be developed.
“We believe that China represents the future as a source of automotive products which makes this association with Chery a very exciting development for Ateco,” Mr Crichton said whilst trying his best to talk up the little known brand.
China is now the world’s second largest vehicle market, behind the United States of America, recording 8.8 million sales last year.
The Next Car team has heard disturbing reports from Europe about the poor safety standards of numerous Chinese cars. On that basis, it is most unlikely our Editor, Stephen Walker, will even get into a Chery, let alone drive one.
Expect any Chinese manufactured car to sell solely on price, rather than engineering, safety or technical innovation. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume any Chinese car will be priced many thousands of dollars below a cheap car from any other developing country. The resale value of a Chinese made car is likely to be "zero" according to our Editor.
But an important question is, given the poor quality record of Chinese made consumer goods, ...... who wants to be first in Australia with a cheap Chinese made car? Another question is who wants a car which may end up wearing the tag 'Chinese Junk'?
Next Car's Editor, Stephen Walker, has indicated he believes the 'Made In China' tag is quite uninspiring. On that basis he believes those trying to sell Chinese cars will be viewed as opportunists just wanting to make a quick 'buck' out of those who cannot afford a 'real' car. In that event, Chery dealers may be jeopardising their real franchises, as people walk the other way from Chinese car dealers.