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Future models - Geely - EX7

Fresh Geely SUV eyed for Australia

On the list: Chinese car-maker Geely's EX7 compact SUV - first seen as the Gleagle GX718 concept in Shanghai last year - is under consideration for Australian launch.

Chinese RAV4 rival on wish list for Australian Geely importer

Geely logo2 Jul 2010

By RON HAMMERTON

CHINESE car-maker Geely’s first SUV, the 2010 EX7, is in the sights of Geely’s Australian importer, Perth-based Chinese Automotive Distributors.

The Toyota RAV4-sized compact SUV – due to hit the Chinese market within the next few weeks after being unveiled in production form at April’s Beijing motor show – is likely to become the fourth Geely model in the Australian line-up after the brand begins its local roll-out from about September this year.

No date has been confirmed for the EX7, but owner of the Australian Geely distributorship, Perth businessman and multi-franchise car dealer John Hughes, has confirmed to GoAuto that the vehicle is being considered for Australia.

“Yes, it is on the cards for us, but I can’t give you any timing yet,” he said.

The five-door EX7 – first revealed at the 2009 Shanghai motor show as the GX718 concept and now being launched under Geely's Emgrand sub brand – is based on the same mid-sized platform that spawned the EC7, which is already in the pipeline for Australian launch in 2011.

Both offer a 102kW 1.8-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, but Chinese reports suggest the EX7 will also have 106kW 2.0-litre petrol and 100kW 2.0-litre diesel variants.

An Australian-designed Drivetrain Systems International six-speed automatic transmission to be made in Geely’s new transmission factory now under construction in China will provide an alternative to the standard manual gearbox by the time the vehicle is set for export to Australia.

Two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive variants will be offered in China, along with seating for up to seven people in three rows.

203 center imageFrom top: Geely Emgrand EX7 SUV, Geely LC Panda, Geely EC7, Geely MK.

The car appears to be unashamedly based on the RAV4, with almost identical dimensions and similar styling lines and suspension design. Unlike the RAV4, the EX7’s spare wheel is tucked away, not hanging off the rear door.

In China, the EX7 is bigger than other compact SUVs from the domestic car-makers, such as the Chery Tiggo, and will go head to head with the locally-made RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

In Australia, it would not be the first Chinese-made SUV on the market, as Great Wall Motors already offers the bigger, Toyota 4-Runner-based 2.4-litre X240.

Mr Hughes, who was instrumental in the introduction of Hyundai to Australia in the 1980s, said that despite some delays in the ADR process – “you need a lot of patience in this game” – Geely was still on target to land the first Chinese passenger car in Australian showrooms.

He said the 1.5-litre four-cylinder 70kW/128Nm Geely MK light sedan – originally touted for local launch in May and then mid-year – was now expected to arrive in September or October.

This would beat the first car from rival Chery – imported by Sydney-based Ateco – by about a month.

The Geely MK, however, will only be rolled out in Western Australia initially before being extended to the eastern states in 2011.

Mr Hughes said his only concern with the MK was the lack of an automatic transmission alternative to the five-speed manual gearbox at launch, but Geely hoped to address that as soon as possible.

In other markets, a four-speed auto variant is offered, but this has been ruled out for Australia, possibly due to severe shortages of such units in the Chinese domestic market.

As GoAuto has reported, Geely’s acquisition of Australia’s automatic transmission supplier DSI has given the company badly needed access to modern auto transmission technology for both front and rear-drive cars.

Just a year after acquiring the Australian company, it has broken ground on a new plant to built 300,000 DSI transmissions a year, Shandong Geely Transmission Co.

It is unclear, however, if the DSI six-speeder is suitable for the MK, as the Aussie transmission if said to be designed for 1.8 to 2.5-litre engine applications.

Mr Hughes said his company was hoping to have prototypes of two other Geely models already confirmed for Australia – the LC Panda mini-car and the EC7 mid-sizer – in Australia by the end of the year in readiness for a 2011 launch.

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