Chinese car brand Chery is set to be “paused” in Australia later this year as the brand’s local importer, Ateco Automotive, runs out its current stock ahead of suitable new models arriving locally.
Chery has struggled in the Australian market since its introduction in 2011, with a total of just 3644 vehicles sold up to January 2015. The brand has offered three models over that period – the J1 city car (below), J3 hatchback (above) and J11 compact SUV (bottom).
However, new models have been slow to arrive – there was an update to the J11 last year, but replacement models for the hatchbacks in the line-up haven’t been forthcoming.
Ateco Automotive public relations consultant Daniel Cotterill told CarAdvice that getting the right vehicles from Chery has proved “tricky”, but rebutted a local report that claimed the brand will be wound-up in Australia later this year.
“It is tricky to get the right-hand drive models we want from Chery,” Cotterill said. “Short-term they haven’t got the models that we want in right-hand drive.”
Cotterill said the weakening Australian dollar has played a key role in the lack of success seen on the sales charts, too.
“The currency makes or breaks us an importer,” he said, referencing the fact the Australian dollar against the US was up near 95 cents in 2014, but has now dipped below 78 cents. “We need a set of circumstances to change – availability of right-hand drive, and the currency.”
Cotterill said Chery had changed its focus to be more about satisfying the needs and wants of its domestic consumer base, rather than pushing for rapid globalisation, as was the case when the brand was first brought to Australia.
“They’ve had a pretty serious rationalisation, and it’s meant they’ve wound-back their emphasis on export markets,” he said, before suggesting the local importer had asked for a specific model, the T21 compact SUV, as one possible vehicle for local sale. It’s not available right now, though.
In terms of the overall status of the brand in Australia, Cotterill said “paused is a reasonable word” to describe the situation.
“We won’t hand back the keys,” he said.
“There might be a be a period where we don’t have any new models from the brand, but we have and will retain the rights to Chery in Australia.”