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Chery set to reload with new models

All change: Chery is evaluating a new compact SUV, throught to be based on the Beta 5 concept shown at this year’s Shanghai motor show.

China’s Chery finally gets ESC – and a Victorian sales footprint with 10 dealers

12 Sep 2013

CHINESE car-maker Chery is on the verge of effectively re-launching the brand in Australia with a revised model range and its first dealer representation in Victoria.

Up to 10 new dealerships are set to be established in the southern state by the middle of next year, filling a yawning gap in the Chery sales landscape caused by Victoria’s mandatory electronic stability control (ESC) laws on all new vehicles.

Two of Chery’s three current models, the J3 small car and J11 compact SUV, are not only getting new powertrains but also ESC, finally paving the way for sales in Australia’s second biggest market.

Also, up to three new-generation vehicles – a Pulsar-sized small car, a compact SUV and a new light car – are all currently under evaluation for an Australian launch in the next two years or so.

The SUV – an eventual replacement for the J11 – is probably the new Tiggo that is thought to be based on the Beta 5 concept car unveiled at the Shanghai motor show in April this yearAt the time, Australian importer Ateco Automotive was quoted as saying it would be “very interested” in the new model that reportedly is slated for production in 2015.

62 center imageFrom top: Chery Alpha 7 concept, J3, J11.

The small car could be based on the Alpha 7 small-car concept shown at Shanghai, and possibly sold here under J4 badges as early as next year.

The prospective light car – possibly the QQ city car sold in China – is expected to ultimately replace Australia’s cheapest car, the $9990 J1 light hatch.

The J1 is set to be discontinued within weeks as Australia’s new national mandatory ESC rules on passenger cars and SUVs take effect on November 1.

Chery and Ateco say the J1 has reached the end of its Australian sales lifespan, and would be uneconomical to re-engineer to comply with the ESC rules announced by the federal government in 2009.

All new cars introduced since November 2011 have had to be fitted with ESC under the Australian design rules, but passenger cars and SUVs launched before then could continue on sale without ESC until this November.

The current three-model Chery range is one of the last to adopt the life-saving technology that has been progressively introduced by manufacturers since the early2000s.

Great Wall’s petrol-powered X240 SUV and Suzuki’s Sierra Jimny compact SUV are also on the extinct list, as both manufactures do not intend to update them with ESC by the deadline.

Chery Automotive Australia spokesman Daniel Cotterill told GoAuto that the revised J3 hatchback had already arrived in Australia, armed with a new 1.6-litre VVT four-cylinder engine in place of the old 1.5-litre unit, along with its first optional automatic transmission, a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

He said that as part of the powertrain package, ESC has been engineered into the car to not only enhance safety and comply with the national law but also allow it to be sold in Victoria where the state government went it alone with ESC rules on January 1 2012, stymieing Chery’s sales roll-out there.

The revised J3’s engine packs 93kW – up from 87kW – and will still be available with a five-speed manual transmission as well as the new CVT.

Mr Cotterill said the J11 SUV would be similarly upgraded by the November 1 deadline, also getting ESC and a new engine with variable valve timingHe said the Victorian dealership roll-out was now being initiated, with about 10 outlets in various stages of development to be opened in the medium term.

Asked what time frame he expected that to be, he said by the middle of next year.

“Some will be there quite quickly, while others might take a little while,” he said.

“Obviously some of this was done early in the piece before the ESC issue came up.

“Now it becomes the availability of their (dealership) site, business plan and stock availability.”

Mr Cotterill revealed that Chery Automotive Australia was working on the introduction of new-generation cars, with three vehicles under evaluation.

At least one of the cars – a Pulsar/Cerato competitor – is under test by the importer in Australia.

Mr Cotterill said all three vehicles under evaluation would be built on new platforms engineered from the outset for right-hand drive and the latest safety technologies.

“These platforms will have far more comprehensive safety equipment built into them, so the chances of them making it to Australia are good,” he said.

Asked if all three models would make it here, Mr Cotterill said: “In an ideal world, all three models would. Whether all three models make it through, only time will tell.”

Chinese vehicle importers have learned the hard way not to count their chickens on models for Australia, with a string of difficulties over Australian Design Rule compliance and other issues.

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