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Chinese Attack Scheduled For Local New Car Market


20th June, 2008

Great Wall double cab utility

China’s first car brand to make its Australian and New Zealand debut will arrive in October of this year, more than six months earlier than previously predicted, when Sydney and Auckland based importer, Ateco Automotive launches Great Wall Motor. Another Chinese brand, Chery, wants a bite of the local car market, too.

Ateco has been negotiating with GWM for almost three years. Strict confidentiality agreements have precluded Ateco from confirming that it has not only concluded negotiations but it also has been working on homologating the first GWM vehicle to be sold in Australia. GWM will debut with a double cab ute, with a 2.2 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine, that will retail for well under $20,000 in both Australia and New Zealand.

“The GWM double cab ute will be just the start,” says Ric Hull, Managing Director, Ateco Automotive Pty Ltd. “The ute will be followed soon after with a single cab ute, a compact SUV and an entry level light car.”

To prepare for the launch of its Chinese brands, Ateco has made some key management changes. David Stone, who was instrumental in setting up the Hyundai, Daewoo and Kia networks, will oversee the appointment of dealers to distribute Ateco’s new Chinese brands, with a target of 50 dealers across Australia for the launch of GWM in October. In New Zealand the GWM distribution business will be run from Ateco’s Mount Wellington headquarters in Auckland via a network of five to six dealers at launch. The New Zealand product range will be common with Australia.

In addition to its Sydney headquarters, Ateco will also appoint regional managers for the key state operations, working to Peter McGeown who is newly appointed to the role of National Sales Manager. McGeown has worked with Ateco as Queensland Regional Manager when Ateco represented Kia. He will be responsible for setting up an entire sales and marketing infrastructure for GWM, which will include national as well as regional activities.

Full details, prices and specifications of the new GWM range will be announced when they go on sale in October.

In the meantime, the Next Car team hasn't noticed any desire for cheap vehicles from China. On that basis, we don't expect to see a queue forming to buy unknown products from a communist country where the regime feels no shame each time the regime exercises violence towards the citizens of neighbouring countries (such as Mongolia, Nepal and Tibet). In fact, given the poor experience of European buyers of cheap cars from China, it is difficult to see that anyone would even buy one of the great unknowns. Even at excessively cheap prices, buyers will be few and far between. For example, when was the last time you heard someone mutter "I just can't wait to buy a cheap car from China, because I don't want of the those nice new cars"? The other aspect which will be disturbing to potential dealers is whether or not they will threaten their own businesses if buyers of real cars do their shopping elsewhere because of a protest against a Chinese car dealer sending good aussie dollars to China.

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