China’s car industry is going through a tumultuous time.
Chinese carmakers are growing in popularity in Australia, with MG breaking into the top 10 in terms of sales and GWM Haval and LDV growing rapidly, while European luxury brands like Nio and Hongqi is trying to capture the market.
Over the past few years, many commentators have observed improvements in the quality of cars as well as genuine innovation in areas such as battery technology for electric vehicles.
Chery has positioned itself as a mass-market, high-volume brand. After a brief, unsuccessful stint in Australia a decade ago, it appears to be gearing up for a relaunch. But who is Chery?
Chery was founded in the mid-1990s as a state-owned enterprise in Wuhu city, Anhui province, eastern China, then one of China’s poorest provinces. Initially, the company’s leadership included Zhan Xialai, an assistant to the mayor of Wuhu, and Zhou Biren, a director at a local government-owned construction supply company. Together they found that starting a car company could be a way to alleviate poverty, by providing jobs that boost incomes and thus boost economic growth in the greater Anhui region. than.
Before any car could be manufactured, factories, tools, supply chains and other production equipment needed to be procured and organized, and it was for this that Biren flew to the UK. in 1996 to purchase scrapped engine manufacturing equipment. of Ford.
Chery also buys tools from the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish subsidiary Seat, as the brand’s first-generation Toledo is nearing the end of production.
Plant construction then began in early 1997, with the first cars shipping in late 1999.
Chery’s first car, the Fengyun (roughly translated: ‘cloudy wind’), is almost identical to the Toledo, although underneath it uses various components from Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen. Subsequent revisions under the names Amulet and Cowin gave a more distinct look.
At this point, it seems like Chery has quickly completed the hard work of essentially becoming a car maker in its own right, with actual cars being produced. Unfortunately, however, part of the puzzle the new company has left out is getting the relevant approvals and permits to actually sell the cars it’s making.
Lacking a government license to manufacture cars, the company quickly took the umbrella of SAIC Motor to get its license, before canceling the merger to return to independence. The Fengyun sedan example was finally able to go on sale to customers in 2001, with 28,000 vehicles produced that year.
The company continues to expand its product line with low-cost models such as the QQ compact hatch. By 2007, Chery had transformed itself into a behemoth locally, with approximately 25,000 employees and total sales of more than 400,000 vehicles, including the export of 110,000 vehicles to emerging markets such as Russia, the Middle East and the Middle East. Latin America.
Chery claims to have sold more than 960,000 vehicles in 2021 (up 30% year-on-year), including exporting nearly 270,000 vehicles to key markets including Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Malaysia .
The brand claims to have R&D centers globally, including in Germany, the US and Brazil, with a dedicated workforce of 5500 people dedicated solely to R&D activities within the company.
Notably, the company has now established partnerships with several globally recognized brands, including Huawei and Alibaba. But the most notable of these can be mentioned Chery Jaguar Land Rover, a 50:50 joint venture between Chery and JLR.
This company operates a factory in Changshu for domestic production Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Jaguar E-Paceand extended length versions of Jaguar XE and XF are called XEL and XFL, respectively. However, some of these Chinese-made models have suffered from well-publicized quality problems.
With strict regulation, fierce competition, established sales channels and mature customer expectations, Australia is seen by many as a springboard to expand into other Western markets, especially especially Europe and America. Perhaps it was with this in mind that Chery decided to launch in Australia in 2011, seeing that our market could be a proof-of-concept for the brand.
Launched alongside the J11 compact SUV and the J1 light hatch (shortly followed by the larger J3 hatchback), the Chery competes on price rather than quality. In a short time, the J1 has earned a reputation as one of Australia’s cheapest cars, priced at just $9,990. The J3 and J11 have adopted similar pricing strategies, discounting competitors by several thousand dollars, and are often sold as drive-in deals.
Unfortunately, the brand made some safety and quality compromises to achieve such a low price target, with the J1 being discontinued after failing to meet the required stability control regulations. and other models with poor ANCAP test ratings. The brand left Australia in 2015 after reaching total sales of more than 4,600 vehicles.
Throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s, Chery also faced several allegations that it copied the designs of other models or engaged in other forms of piracy.
The most notable of these concerns Chery’s first-generation QQ model, which was produced for an extended period between 2003 and 2015. General Motors filed a lawsuit in a Chinese court regarding the device. design of this car, claiming that the design is a copy of Daewoo. Matiz, and demonstrated that some parts such as doors are interchangeable. Chery and GM later settled the matter out of court.
QQ was also the subject of further controversy when Chinese company Tencent challenged Chery’s registration of the trademark QQ, which it claims is using for its own online instant messaging service. In this case, Chery successfully defended herself and was able to continue using the QQ moniker.
The Eastar mid-size sedan is a pretty blatant copy of the Daewoo Magnus.
Much of Chery’s current lineup consists of SUVs, with models such as the Tiggo 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 (in ascending size order), as well as restyled, tall ‘Pro’ versions higher grades of some of these models. The brand also sells the Arrizo 6 sedan in certain markets.
Chery claims that all recently developed models have been launched under the ‘Lion’ strategy, demonstrating the company’s commitment to ‘Intelligent Driving, Smart Cloud, Smart Manufacturing,’ Smart Digital Marketing and Smart Travel’ in automotive business and performance. .
More recently, the company unveiled a new ‘Omoda’ sub-brand that represents the next generation of Chery vehicles. Should the brand return to Australia, its comeback will likely be led by the new Omoda 5 midsize SUV.
Chery is currently advertising for the role of sales manager based in Sydney.