China-made cars, SUVs and light commercials are still niche players, but their popularity has grown in 2017 after a few years of regression.
Industry sales figures show that 3080 Chinese new vehicles have been sold this year to the end of August, up 66.3 per cent over the same period in 2016.
Hold your horses though — this is 0.4 per cent of the total market, about the same proportion as vehicle production 'powerhouses' Belgium, Finland, India, Italy, the Slovak Republic and Turkey.
Pictured: LDV T60
The leading light is LDV, a subsidiary of Shanghai-based conglomerate SAIC, which is imported to Australia and distributed by Ateco. It has sold 1487 units this year — 724 G10 vans, 506 LDV people-movers, 240 of its older V80 vans and two V80 buses.
And soon the company will launch its new T60 dual-cab ute and the D90 SUV. Clearly LDV is gunning for the void left by Great Wall, which has now re-appeared but which is a shadow of what it was five years ago.
Next is SUV-maker Haval, which is probably the best-known Chinese brand these days thanks to its sizeable ad spend. Its national network has moved 494 units this year, led by the H6 (214), H2 (205), H9 (46) and H8 (29).
Breathing down Haval’s neck is recently relaunched MG, another subsidiary of SAIC, which has sold 421 units — 312 MG6 Plus small cars, 76 GS crossovers and 33 MG3 light cars.
Next is Foton Light, recently binned by Ateco in favour of LDV but now re-energised with a new distributor. It has sold 371 Cummins diesel-engined Tunland utes, 320 of which are 4x4s. Now it has a van and a SUV, which you can read about here.
Next is Great Wall, with its new factory importer shared with sister brand Haval, on a disappointing 285 sales — well below its stated targets. It’s sold 285 Steed utes this year, 152 being 4x2 and 133 the 4x4.
Pictured: MG GS
Tens of thousands of its predecessor were sold, but this is a different market now, with offerings such as the Mitsubishi Triton being so cheap.