The first new Chery cars for Australia in eight years have been built and are reportedly ready for the Chinese marque’s relaunch, but the launch is behind schedule.
The return of the Chinese carmaker cherry to Australia has been delayed again – but the first cars have now rolled off the assembly line in China ahead of a planned launch in Australia in March or April in anticipation of further setbacks.
Chery was due to return to Australia in late 2022 – eight years after it left the market after an unsuccessful four-year hiatus marred by falling sales, poor safety ratings and an asbestos recall.
Now representatives of the Chinese brand say it will be relaunched locally by the end of March 2023. More details are expected soon on a revised website.
Photos published by Chery on Facebook show the first examples of the company’s first new model – the small SUV Omoda 5, a rival for MG ZS, Haval Jolion and Mazda CX-30 – have rolled off the assembly line.
Two larger SUVs are due later, the Mazda CX-5-sized Tiggo 7 Pro and the Mitsubishi Outlander-sized Tiggo 8 Pro family SUVs – but new arrival dates for these vehicles are yet to be confirmed.
Chery executives have previously announced an ambitious sales target of selling 70,000 cars a year in Australia from 2027 – and becoming one of the top five selling brands alongside Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Ford and Mitsubishi.
It’s unclear if that ambitious sales target – which would see Chery rise faster than any new car brand in Australian history if met – or if executives have since come up with more realistic sales targets.
Chinese fellow brands MG and Great Wall Motors each took three years to sell 10,000 cars a year and four and 13 years, respectively, to surpass 25,000 sales in a calendar year.
The company claims so in a press release It has already established 40 dealer locations – including in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – and plans to expand to 60 locations later this year.
Chery has previously announced that the Omoda 5 will be available in a choice of two model classes, initially powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with front-wheel drive – ahead of a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine with all-wheel drive.
Hybrid and/or electric versions are expected to arrive at a later date.
Pricing is expected to start at around $30,000 – based on options in a customer survey Chery posted on social media – and all models are said to come standard with a full suite of advanced safety technology.
The Omoda 5 has received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in Europe – which is expected to match Australia’s ANCAP equivalent as the two safety organizations have largely aligned their testing protocols.
The automaker claims it has completed 30,000km of road tests across Australia with Omoda 5 prototypes.
“Chery is very different from what we used to be – what we were a long time ago,” Chery’s international exports chief Charlie Zhang told Australian media last year.
“The product, the quality, the design, the technology – as you can see with Omoda 5 – has been completely changed.
“That’s why it’s not labeled as a Chinese brand [has] cheap prices. It’s not price driven. We want to be a technology-driven company.
“MG and Great Wall have sold a large number of cars in Australia. We will definitely catch up because what they have, we will have – and we will have more and better ones,” he added.
More details of Chery’s Australian relaunch are expected closer to the arrival of the first cars in the coming months.
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