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A mandatory safety recall of Australia’s cheapest car, the Chery J1, will “almost certainly” turn it into an unofficial four-star safety-rated car, according to the vehicle’s distributor.

A total of 702 Chery J1 five-door hatches have been recalled in Australia to repair a defect in the front seats. The defect was identified off the back of local crash testing conducted by ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) in April.

The Chinese-made Chery J1 was awarded a three-star ANCAP safety rating in May, making it the equal least safe new passenger vehicle available in Australia. Fitted with just two airbags, ABS and EBD – and without electronic stability control or the option to fit additional airbags – the J1 cannot be sold in Victoria for this reason, and will need to be updated before November 1 to meet new national safety regulations.

Among the criticisms from ANCAP were:

“The passenger compartment lost structural integrity. Protection from serious chest injury was poor for the driver”, and,

“There was a high risk of a life-threatening chest injury for the driver.”

Daniel Cotterill from Ateco Automotive, the distributor of Chery vehicles in Australia, said Chery Automotive Australia believed a second crash test after the recall would elevate the J1 above its current rating.

“We think that it would almost certainly get a four-star rating,” Mr Cotterill said.

Despite this, Chery will not get a chance to prove the J1’s improved integrity, as ANCAP will not test the car again so soon after the initial crash round.


Around 300 Chery J1 vehicles have been sold to the public since the car’s launch in February. Approximately 400 other vehicles are currently in the hands of dealers and in other holding zones in Australia.

The official recall notice on the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission website explains:

“There is an internal non-conformity of both front seat backrests. Under certain operating conditions, the integrity of the seat frame structure may be compromised.”

Ateco Automotive says it will contact all customers advising them to bring their vehicles into dealerships.

“The dealers will remove both front seats from the vehicle and replace the backrest assembly on each seat. Both front seats will be refitted to the vehicle using the new mounting bolts as per recommendations.”

The recall repair will take around 40 minutes to complete.

The Chery J1 went on sale in Australia with a price tag of $11,990. In April, a $1000 cashback offer – which remains in place today – brought the effective driveaway price down to just $10,990, making it the outright cheapest new car in the country.

  • bazinga

    OMG – get this rubbish off the road. There are enough fatalities each year. Why do we need to bother approving cheap crap like this to be available in Oz? With a pop. of 22mill, we must have the most car brands of any country. There is more than enough competition and at $12990 for a Nissan Micra, why would you even risk the unknown with a “Cherry Ripe”?

    • o

      VE had 3 recalls in a year!

      • Roadtard

        VE recalled for issues relating to quality of isolated components/fittings, not because the car wasn’t thoroughly engineered… Except perhaps that battery drain issue… Was that ever resolved?

        • Tommy

          theres plenty cars with no airbags or any safety features on the road.

          • nickdl

            Made in 1995…

  • GW

    Micra is not safer than Chery J1, if you do not believe, you can have a real crash test if you have 2 cars….

    • PhantomHamster

      GW, and you know the micra isnt safer because??? it has a pile more airbags and other safety features the J1 doesnt have….Good on the VIC government for not allowing this shopping trolley to be sold there.

      • name withheld

        If only they stood up to Holden and banned the Barina for not having ESC.

      • name withheld

        If only the Vic Govt would stand up the Holden and ban the Barina for not having ESC.

        • david

          The current Barina has an exemption in Victoria, because at the time the rules came into effect, a replacement model which does have ESC, was less than 12 months away.

  • Joker

    Gosh..look at how the A-Pillar/Roof line crumbles.. seems to be an ongoing weakness in Chinese cars.. they just can’t engineer decent crumple zones into them…
    Get ’em off the road and disallow trade of vehicles that are below 4 ANCAP Stars. Force Holden to have ESC in the Barina too…I wish I was surprised to hear that they don’t have it but I’m not.

    • Torque

      The RHF A pillar appears to have separated from the roof rail ?
      Poor Buster & family, they will never be the same again. Maybe he could be reused after the steering shaft is removed from his chest.

  • Andronicus

    Things that were suprising in this article: 300 Sold.

    Things that were not suprising in this article: Recalled.

  • Grady

    How is this 3 star? Isn’t that being too generous when the a-pillar crumbles like that? A human life is too valuable to put your faith and trust into something like this. Obviously this car has been engineered to the absolute minimum passable, and yet 300 people have bought them? Very sad.

  • Peanut

    I love this vehicle because in an accident, my face will be safely cushioned by the air bag as my chest suffers life threating injuries as it passes through the steering wheel and dasboard.

  • Jub

    Its comparable to Lexus LS600HL ..

    • Dan

      How’s your trolling going?

  • Ruby

    I bet you none of the 300 owners are chinese or asian.. Probably mostly aussie..

    • Toyota Guru

      Cross out Aussie and put in place bogan.

      Nasty little Fecal Matter Boxes.

    • wokstar

      are you impying that a chinese (or asian)australian is not aussie?

      or are you refering to white australians?

    • Kampfer

      Why have to be Aussie? You can tell just looking through the windows of the car? They can be any other nationality.

      I do see one driving around Brisbane southside by a young Asian lady.

      On the otherhand all the Greatwall Ute/SUV I see so far are not driven by Asian.

  • http://STI THE FACT

    Wander WHY the government allows just cheap and rubbish cars here in the first place.

    • Sam

      The Fact – Did you not know that it is the intention of the government (both persuasions) that Australian manufacturing be screwed to death by every country on earth?

  • Toxic_horse

    All you crash test experts. If you had a clue what you were talking about you would notice that the crumple zone is working. Look at the front wheel. It is in place with no crumple back from it. It also looks like the Dash/steering colum are in place.
    It looks like the A pillar has detached from the roof however the crumple zone and survival space are working.

  • Innocent Intentions

    Toxic Horse said it best, I actually sell alot of these types of cars and unlike most, I have had plenty of experience through distance racked up in them…

    Your early 90’s, 2000 model car does not have comparable safety and your a fool to believe it does! (Exempt are the higher priced vehicles ie: Mercedes)

    You get more than you pay for with the Chery considering its $10,990 and comes with more features than most 15k+ cars… roadside assist and a decent warranty! Most importantly its NEW!!!

    The cars fantastic for City Businesses, Running around town, and what more would you want for a car to drive to the shops and back, if you didnt want to pack up your winny-beigo everytime you needed to stock up on some simple shopping?

    You all think your going to win on buying a heap of shit used car, the reality is IT’S USED ie: Somebody elses Problem! something goes wrong your on your own!
    New cars are never going to be problem free but atleast the warranty means someone else is copping the bill for you in the event something does go wrong…

    And funnily enough my personal Favorite is the consumer who refuses to buy “Chinese Shit”
    Most of the time they dont even realise the clothes on their backs came from China!

    If you want a EFI engine in todays society and dont want a Mitsubishi made motor, your buying Chinese mate! Bosch is located in China – Wake the hell up Australia you’ll buy a Great wall with no safety or 1 star but a 3 star passenger vehicle that actually has more features than most is too dangerous?

  • realy2

    for all the eddy experts out there i had the opportunity to drive one of these cars the other day and a good drive as well they are surprisingly stable and solid on the road i have been in the car industry selling cars for over 20 years and driven hundreds of different cars if you compare what you get for 11k in a small used car there is no doubt there value when you see the problems of used car warranty in this business which only lasts for 3 months then your on your own with somone elses problem 90 % of vehicles are traded in because they have mechanical issues. As far as resale value even if you kept this car for 3 years and at worst got 3 back you would rip up alot less money that buying a new car such as a yaris for 17k also taking into consideration interest on your loan and initial outlay. Or what you would spend keeping a used car on the road with repair costs

  • Big deal

    Big deal my fully registered daily driven torana, motorcycles (3), do not have esc, crumple zones etc. etc. Shit the torry has 1.5m long steering shaft. Would end up in last year if I was in an accident.

    I would purchase a chery immediately if it was for sale in Victoria. No esc big bloody deal.
    Victorian government – world known for being the biggest nanny state.

    Even 3 star rating is 3 stars better than most 10-20+ year old sh*t boxes still on Australian roads.

    Would drive it until it its rings break, then melt it in my furnace.

  • Mother of two

    There are other cars on the road that are old as the day I was born, yet they still work no matter what and people still buy them second hand??? so why are you saying ”rather live than die”
    when there is only some chances that you will, its not like your going to just buy the car and then as soon as you head out frkn crash??? I mean you are very wise and sensible to say so but think positive….its clean new cheapest car ever…great for 18+ and it is only a car to go to work, shopping, to the city, drop off kids and back it really doesn’t list that it is a car for field trips or out camping does it???….so think twice…yes its only 3 or 4 stars rated but something good as this you are stupid to not get it.  

  • Car Dealer

    In 1994 the 2nd model release of the Hyundai excel hit the Australian market it to had many critics stating all the Inadequacies of such a vehicle. High on the list of criticism was the car was so poorly made they will fall apart in a stiff breeze. Time has proven these criticisms to be completely wrong. The evidence can be found at any car auction. Today in dollar terms this model Excel consistently outperforms cars that were 5 times it price when they were both new. This is not hard to prove go to any car auction and you will see dealers paying good money for a well kept Excel knowing its in demand and will be easy to sell on. Time will tell us if the Chery will be a success or not in the meantime it makes interesting debate.