Rising Chinese brands free from stock shortages

MG and Great Wall Motor are storming up the sales charts on the back of improved products, but healthy supply lines loom as another major factor in their rise.

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
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Two of China’s biggest car manufacturers – MG and Great Wall Motor – are charging up the Aussie sales charts on the back of fresh products, long warranties, and growing dealer networks.

But there’s another aspect that seems set to help their climb: factory supply.

While the global semiconductor shortage has crippled production for many manufacturers and slashed stock levels on the ground, neither of these two brands claims to have an issue.

Therefore the dealers selling these brands are unlikely to have to tether their order rate while waiting for supplies to arrive, and should be able to get customers into their cars without much of a waiting period.

Volume manufacturers such as Hyundai, Isuzu Ute, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen have all been quite open about their less-than-ideal stock situation on some (not all) models. And they’re just the brands open to talking about it publicly.

By contrast a spokesperson for MG’s wholly owned Australian distributor told us this week there were no major delays or shortages on any of its models, although stock levels of certain colours might differ from dealer-to-dealer.

“We’re very aware of the issues that face the wider industry at the moment, but MG is well positioned,” the spokesperson said, adding it’s also ramping up fleet contracts with rental companies struggling to get their hands on cars from rival brands.

We understand MG is preparing to welcome a ship loaded exclusively with its cars (not sharing space) to Australia for the first time. The boat is expected to dock during July.

It’s one of a number of shipments that will see around 11,000 of its cars touch down in coming months.

It seems to be a similar story for GWM’s wholly-owned Australian factory distributor, which sells the GWM Ute and Haval SUV range – all of which have just been completely overhauled with new models this year.

“We’ve been very lucky. Our year-to-date sales number has been fairly unimpeded by any stock issues. We’ve been able to get pretty much what we want,” said GWM Australia marketing and communications chief Steve Maciver.

“We’ve been relatively sensible on our forward ordering, we have been gauging demand closely and ordering just that. We’ve got good supply in the coming months, there are a few question markets around semiconductors but at this stage things are looking pretty positive for us.”

About the brands

Remarkably MG sells the top-selling light car (MG 3) and top-selling Small SUV (ZS) in the country, as well as the HS medium SUV. It also sells the cheapest electric car, the ZS EV from $43,990 drive-away.

The company’s sales to the end of May sit at 15,241, up 250 per cent. It’s now the 10th most-popular brand by sales, and sits ahead of Isuzu, Honda and Suzuki.

GWM’s sales are up 270 per cent to 5489 units, meaning its 2021 tally to the end of May is already greater than its total sales for all of 2020. The GWM Ute, Haval Jolion, and Haval H6 are all humming along, with a dealer run rate well above initial projections.

With more new SUV and EV products coming, it’s projecting 18,000 sales this year and reportedly aspires to be a top 10 player itself.

MORE: China’s GWM plans to launch Big Dog, Tank 300, Ora EVs, has huge 2021 target

The growth of Chinese brands has become a major story in the Australian car market.

Data shows 27,430 China-made cars have been sold here this year, up 240 per cent in an overall market up 37.5 per cent.

These vehicles are made by MG, LDV, and GWM, plus some Volvo models and Tesla models (a mass shipment of China-made Model 3s just touched down) are also sourced from there. Moreover BYD plans to launch EVs this year through a private distributor, from just $35,000.

China is now our fourth-largest source of cars behind Japan, Thailand, and Korea, and sits ahead of Germany.

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Mike Costello
Mike Costello
Mike Costello is the Comparisons Editor at CarExpert.
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