Chery is aiming to hit the ground running in Australia, confirming its plans to have a rich mix of models, body types and powertrains available within a year of its official launch.
The Chinese brand – which will arrive in Australia this time around as a wholly owned subsidiary, with backing from company headquarters – is aimed squarely at big-name players in the market such as Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai and Kia.
With the Chery Omoda 5 compact SUV due to launch in February, the company is already thinking about what comes next. Local marketing director James Curtis said there are plenty of picks available for the local market.
“Our model range will increase. We’ve got multiple engine variants of Omoda 5, and then there’s a heap of different models that are in development or being upgraded within the Chery model portfolio, which will be available to us to pick from,” he said.
The Omoda 5 is expected to launch initially with a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine (with outputs somewhere between 108kW and 115kW), and it’ll run a CVT automatic with front-wheel drive as standard.
But with the Australian taste for additional performance, it seems almost certain based on these comments that the brand will add the punchier – you could say, Kia Seltos GT-Line-rivalling – 145kW/290Nm 1.6-litre turbo version with a dual-clutch automatic. In other markets that model also runs a multi-link rear suspension layout instead of a torsion beam.
Beyond the two petrol versions, Mr Curtis also confirmed Omoda 5 would be offered as an electric model as well.
“Omoda 5 will be a car that will suit multiple different lifestyles. It will have internal combustion engines, but it will also be built with EV. And that car is available, and will come to Australia.
“I can’t be specific at this stage as to when it’s coming in. But the EV plan is aggressive, and we will have EVs available to the market, I would expect within a 12-month period,” he said.
Mr Curtis said that it’s important for the brand to gauge when it’s best to launch different models, and made it clear that the company wants to get it right first time around.
“We’re not going to rush anything to the market – we’re going to make sure it’s under the right conditions,” he said.
When asked about the potential for models that aren’t SUVs, Mr Curtis explained that the door is open for any and all body types, depending on what the market wants.
“Globally we’ve got a number of different product lines – we’ve even got Exeed, which is like Genesis or Lexus as a luxury brand [for Chery], they make SUVs and passenger cars. We’ve got everything from off-roaders… there are all these different product lines that are available to us.
He explained that the market, currently, is clearly SUV-focused – those models in Australia in 2022 accounted for a huge 53.1 percent of all sales (574,632 units) – but he said there are other body types the company is considering.
“We’ve got every product in terms of body-styles, powertrains, and drive configurations available to us, if the market desires. And that’s the good thing about the market here – we’ve got the opportunity to do it,” he said.
“I’ve got the fortunate position of being able to look ahead into the future, a little bit of crystal balling. I’m really excited about what we’ve got coming up – and we’re not talking a matter of five years, we’re talking a matter of twelve months.
“So I can be pretty confident that those cars I’ve seen in presentations and on screen will be made available to us. And they span multiple segments and multiple different powertrains.EVs, PHEVs, four-wheel drives, passenger cars, whatever – I’m really confident that five, if not more, of those cars will be available,” he said.
A ute – or maybe more than just one ute – seems a clear contender for the local market, but Mr Curtis would not be drawn to comment on that, despite reports the company is working on several different vehicles that would fit under the “ute” umbrella.
The company is reportedly developing two lifestyle utes, and may partner with an established player in the China market to produce a Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rival. More on that as we learn the details.
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