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Foton maps out Australian expansion

More to come: The recently-launched Tunland diesel ute will hold the fort for the company in Australia until a wider model roll-out in 2014.

Sales targets and future model plans on the table for Foton and distributor FAA

14 Nov 2012

FOTON has at last introduced the Tunland into the Australian market, but the premium-priced Chinese ute is just the tip of the iceberg for local importer FAA Automotive Australia.

For now, the Tunland is available only as a Cummins diesel-powered dual-cab, but from around the middle of next year FAA expects to add single-cab, crew-cab and ZF six-speed automatic versions, and will make electronic stability control available.

This will be joined by a petrol option by the end of 2013, although FAA says no particular engine has been locked in for the job.

The inaugural roll-out will start slowly, with just 45 Tunlands in the country at launch this week and a nationwide network of just 12 dealers – only three of which have full signage.

A further 100 units will hit the docks in December, and by the end of 2013 FAA aims to have 31 dealers across every state and territory.

Down the track, the company also has ambitions to establish a parts distribution centre in Australia.

From 2014, new models will join the range, including the new-generation View passenger van and a mysterious Tunland-based seven-seat SUV – a follow-up to the current model dubbed the CX and sold in developing markets.

Official Foton sales figures revealed at this week’s Tunland launch show the company aims to sell 1530 utes in Australia next year, expanding to 4050 units in 2014, 5430 units in 2015, 8520 units in 2016 and 10,520 in 2017.

Sales figures for the View van and the unnamed SUV are more modest, with respective targets of 1220 sales and 1800 sales by the year 2017.

Nevetheless, when combined with the Aumark and Auman truck ranges imported separately via a different distributor – Ateco Automotive – the overall Foton sales target in Australia by 2017 is 16,930 cars and trucks.

In comparison, the current most successful Chinese brand in Australia – Ateco’s Great Wall – has sold 9320 utes and SUVs to the end of October, putting it on track for around 11,500 annual sales this year.

It should be noted that these are Foton Auto’s targets and not those of its distributors, but FAA director Peter Llewellyn said this week that: “while Foton is not yet a household name in this country, it will be”.

The Chinese maker of commercial vehicles makes no secret of its grand global ambitions, with plans to extend its reach beyond its native market with a fleet of LCV, passenger and truck models targeted at mature western markets.

By 2020, the company is shooting to grow its annual production from 680,000 units to around 4 million – 1.4 million of which will be exports – and plans to produce cars in India from 2015 and Russia from later this decade, and will also ramp-up its truck joint-venture with Daimler.

The strategy, which hinges on further expansion into developing markets like Brazil and Russia – as well as western ‘test beds’ like Australia – before branching out into Japan, Korea, Europe and North America, is part of the ambitious company’s goal to be “China's first world auto brand”.

According to Foton global vice president Xiangyin Wang, who came to Australia for this week’s Tunland launch, the 4 million sales figure will make Foton a global top-ten auto-maker by 2020.

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