Chinese brand Chery will target younger buyers with its Australian relaunch, with over-the-air updates for its cars and exclusive events for its owners.
The brand will launch with the Omoda 5 SUV when it returns to Australia, followed by the larger Tiggo 7 Pro and Tiggo 8 Pro crossovers.
Examples of all three will be shipped to Australia from Shanghai in July so potential customers and dealer partners can have a look, although the brand hasn’t confirmed how it plans to display the vehicles locally.
When it does have cars on the ground to sell, Chery has indicated to CarExpert it plans to target Generation Z buyers with a range of initiatives, including owner events aimed at creating a community.
Chery already runs events in markets such as Peru, Ecuador, and Qatar under the With Chery With Love (WCWL) banner. Now in its “second season”, the WCWL program (above) also includes an online element.
A number of brands have tried to build a strong owner’s community in Australia, albeit with a focus on enthusiast buyers.
Hyundai holds track days for its N Performance community, while Toyota launched the Gazoo Racing brand with the promise of events for GR Supra owners. The practice is less common when it comes to mainstream passenger cars and SUVs, however.
Along with its owner events, Chery plans to be one of the first mainstream car brands to offer over-the-air updates across its range.
Pioneered by Tesla, over-the-air (OTA) software tweaks allow carmakers to add new features or roll out bug fixes to their vehicles remotely.
Tesla is no longer alone in offering OTA capability; Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo, Polestar, and Porsche are able to update not only the infotainment systems in their cars, but elements of how a vehicle drives through firmware changes.
The functionality hasn’t yet found its way to the mainstream market, however. The new Ford Ranger is OTA-updatable, but the tech is otherwise absent from most of Australia’s best-selling cars.
Beyond its owner events and OTA capability, members of Chery’s launch team have indicated to CarExpert the brand is considering Lexus or Genesis-style servicing, where technicians collect cars before service, and return them to owners afterwards.
Chery has grown up significantly since its first foray into the Australian market.
Power across the range comes from compact turbocharged petrol engines, and the latest Chery models feature an up-to-date suite of active driver assists.
When it launches in Australia, Chery will go head-to-head with fast-growing Chinese brands GWM (Great Wall Motor, which includes GWM Haval) and MG in the race to establish itself.
Like its rivals, Chery has placed a focus on growing its sales outside of Chinese borders. It’s now in more than 80 markets, ranging from Peru to South Africa.
Chery never hit great heights Down Under on its first attempt. Announced in 2008 and launched in 2011, the brand was distributed by Ateco Australia, which currently looks after brands ranging from Renault to RAM.
Sales of the J1 city hatch, J3 hatch, and J11 SUV were slow during Chery’s first try.
The J1, which was priced around the $10,000 mark before being removed from sale due to its lack of stability control, peaked with 434 sales in 2011 and finished with just one in 2015.
The J11 SUV hit a sales high of 1114 cars in 2011 and finished with 84 in 2015, while the J3 hatch topped out with 468 sales.
The brand itself sold 1822 cars in 2011, 1133 cars in 2012, 903 cars in 2013, 592 cars in 2014, and 201 cars in 2015.