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Fiat to nobble Geely’s Panda moniker

Name games: The Chinese-built Geely Panda will be renamed for Australia, if Fiat has its way.

Italian maker to prevent China’s Geely from using the Panda name in Australia

24 Aug 2009

A PLAN by Geely to export its 1.0-litre four-seater micro-car to Australia has been hit with a potential stumbling block from Fiat, which will attempt to prevent the Chinese brand from using the Panda name here because it is already used by the Italian maker in markets outside of Australia.

As we reported earlier this month, West Australian automotive magnate John Hughes plans to introduce the Geely brand in Australia early next year via the Toyota Corolla-sized 1.5-litre Geely MK sedan and hatch.

The MK, which will be among the first Chinese-branded passenger cars to be sold in Australia, will be followed about a year later by Geely’s 1.0-litre Panda light-car.

But Australian Fiat importer Ateco Automotive says the Italian giant will take action to prevent Geely from marketing the Panda name in Australia.

“We have forwarded details of this naming issue to Fiat in Italy and they will be taking up proceedings to protect the rights of what is a volume-selling model worldwide for Fiat,” Ateco spokesman Edward Rowe told GoAuto.

Mr Rowe said the entry-level Fiat Panda, which is not sold in Australia, is an important model for Fiat globally, and that the company was keen to prevent the same model nameplate being used by Geely outside of China.

Australian Geely importer, Chinese Automotive Distributors’ John Hughes, said he was disappointed at the news, and that Australia would represent the fledgling brand’s first foray into a “sophisticated” market outside Singapore, which doesn’t require the fitment of standard airbags.

“It’s a shame because we had intended to call the car the Panda,” he said. “That’s what’s it’s known as and what it sells as around the world. After Australia, Geely plans exports to the UK, Western Europe and the US.”

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