With only three models on sale in our local market, Chery is easily overlooked as a small and rather insignificant brand within our borders. But did you know, that Chery is in fact China’s largest vehicle exporter, has been since 2003, and recently achieved total exports of 500 000 vehicles? In addition, with over 107 850 vehicles exported in the first 8 months of 2011, Chery are on track to meet their sales forecasts for 2011, three months ahead of schedule.
Internationally, Chery has a global network of more than 1 000 dealers in more than 80 countries, three R&D facilities in China, as well as one each in Japan, Italy and Australia. When you consider that all of this has been achieved since starting just 10 years ago, it’s clear that small cars are big business.
It’s for this reason, and because a bright red coupe will never escape our attention, that we found ourselves poking around the Chery stand at JIMS last week. As it turns out, we had good reason to do so, as the company announced a number of new cars and their Z5 coupe concept.
Chery’s current local model line-up consists of the QQ3 hatch (one of SA’s cheapest cars at R69 900), the Tiggo SUV and the J1 hatchback. In 2012 the company will expand their local portfolio, and while details are scarce at this stage, we can tell you the following:
The 2012 Chery J3 is an all-new C-segment hatchback – styled by Pininfarina no less. Chery say the 2012 J3 will be equipped with a high level of standard equipment and is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine.
The Chery J2 is another new model for 2012, which will slot into their range as a B-segment sedan, is powered by a 1.5-litre engine producing 80 kW. Chery say the J2 is well-equipped and versatile – with fold-flat rear seat backs and an especially large boot area. The J2 is the result of the Chery ’4S’ design concept (Sporty, Science, Space and Safety), which has been designed to meet 4-star safety standards.
Other cars not coming to SA at this stage, but which Chery brought to JIMS to showcase their technology and future design aspirations, are the M1 EV and the Z5 sports coupe.
The Chery M1 EV electric car is in the final testing phase and should go into production early next year, destined for left-had drive markets only, to begin with. The car has a range of about 150 km, dependent on driving conditions, and requires 6 – 8 hours to recharge the batteries.
The bright red Z5 Sports Coupe concept has been exhibited at a number of motor shows, but no date has been announced for it to go into production. We see a little Alfa Romeo GT in the profile and rear end, which is no bad thing, and overall it’s a pleasantly surprising design language that we hope Chery will build upon in future models. Just as impressive is the Z5′s powerplant, which isn’t an asthmatic 1.5- or 1.6-litre unit, but rather a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with a claimed 128 kW on tap.
Rapid growth, new models and global expansion. It all sounds very exciting. Watch this space.