The Chinese car maker, which is distributed across the country by Ateco Automotive, sold just 461 vehicles to the end of August – down 33 per cent compared with the same time in 2013.
At its current rate, Chery is on target to sell fewer than 700 vehicles in Australia this year. That’s well down on last year’s 903 sales, which itself was humble compared with 2012’s tally of 1133 and the brand’s 1822-unit record in its introductory year in 2011.
Chery’s line-up currently comprises the Corolla-sized J3 hatchback (priced from $12,990 to $16,990 driveaway) and the sub-compact J11 SUV. The updated J11 launched in April at $19,990-$21,990 driveaway, though the old run-out model remains available alongside it at $17,990-$19,990 driveaway.
Ateco is also continuing to sell remaining stock of the micro-sized J1 at $9990 driveaway. The distributor has not been permitted to import new J1s since November as the city car is not fitted with electronic stability control.
Ateco public relations consultant Daniel Cotterill told CarAdvice Chery was currently in a similar position to fellow Chinese brand Great Wall in our market, with currency issues hurting the competitiveness of its existing range against more established rivals and no new models headed our way in the foreseeable future.
“It’s the same thing [as Great Wall],” Cotterill lamented. “Chery, I think, are a little further advanced in terms of restructuring their business in China to focus on that brand and more research and development and improving various aspects of their vehicles and their commercial offering, but that’s a work in progress.
“They’re still a large independent player in their home market, which is of course left-hand drive, so they look there first then they look at right-hand drive if they’re able to.”
Cotterill said Ateco and Chery were committed to staying the course together in Australia, confident that market conditions would improve and new models would be suitable for local showrooms.
“We are persistent, our dealers are persistent, everyone understands when you get started it’s a long-haul exercise,” he said.
“If you look back in history when the Japanese came to Australia and started to sell cars things didn’t go all their way immediately. Same with the Koreans – some of the Korean brands now are exceptionally well accepted and successful, it wasn’t like that for them for the first 10 or so years.
“People who have been there and done this before realise that there will be ebbs and flows for all those reasons, and when it’s ebbing rather than flowing you just need to ride it out.”