Chinese company Cherry will return here in the next few months, initially with Omoda 5 Small SUVs ahead of wider scale product launches are on the rise in the next 12 months.
And – no pressure or anything – the entire organization is pinning its hopes on the company’s local success and future product plans.
The automaker has a history of playing in developing markets, traditionally offering low-cost models that are basic in features, engineering quality and even trade safety inclusions for a cheaper price tag.
That was also the case for the brand here, when it was around 2011 to 2015.
And while new models sold in developing countries today at least look pretty attractive (see the Tiggo SUV range in South Africa, for example) the brand sees Australia at the heart of its upscale push.
So Chery Australia marketing director James Curtis says the company has taken unprecedented steps to ensure Australian buyers get the best it has to offer.
“The supply chain globally has been affected by it, but our factories have not been affected by COVID. In fact, it may be the other way around; Australia is such an important market for Chery internationally that the entire company is turning towards our operations.
“We get priority shipping, we get priority production; everyone is watching us. So it gives us a lot of confidence that operations at the global level are aligned and ready for us,” he said.
What made a Chinese brand decide that it needed to plant a flag in the ground in a market where there are more than 50 brands competing for relatively small sales?
Mr Curtis said it was partly because we in Australia were exposed to so many brands from different countries which ticked the country as an important box to tick before further expansion.
“We’re a right-hand drive market, and that’s rare, and we have the highest number of makes and models per capita. I think the fact that we are global consumers, our expectations in terms of safety and in terms of design, and in terms of our lifestyle, are similar to North America and Western Europe in particular.
“Australia is really a litmus test for the brand. If successful [Chery] will rise to become a truly global company,” he said.
Who is expected to be the buyer of the new Chery product? Mr Curtis suggested that while there were other brands out there with similar offerings, the Chery models sold in Australia would compete with Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, Mazda and more.
“We are confident that we will steal market share from competitors, but I am also confident that we will help grow the market,” he said.
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