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Geely for Oz

A year away: The first Geely models could arrive here in late 2009.

China's Geely brand plans an Australian assault in 2009/10

8 Feb 2008

CHINESE automotive giant Geely is preparing for a tilt at the Australian market.

The move comes as major new-vehicle importer and distributor Ateco Automotive is finalising plans to present a Chinese vehicle at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney this October, ahead of a market introduction late next year.

The importer is yet to confirm which Chinese brand it will introduce, but GoAuto can confirm it is not Geely.

Even so, Geely is drawing up its own plan to introduce cut-price cars in Australia and could have them ready in as little as one year.

Geely international Corporation sales director Frank Xu told GoAuto the company was currently working on design changes needed to fulfil Australian and European homologation requirements.

He said Geely would only start discussing Australian distribution when its cars were ready.

“We have some contact from Australian companies but we are waiting for the homologation,” Mr Xu said. “The product is not ready.” When asked how long it could take to engineer the cars so they cleared the homologation requirements, Mr Xu estimated it would take between one and two years.

He told GoAuto that Geely intended to launch vehicles in Australia and Europe at the same time. While Geely presented its range at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last month, it has no plans to enter the US market for some time.

Geely vice-president Frank Zhao said he thought Americans were not yet ready to buy vehicles produced in China. Asked in Detroit when Geely would start selling cars in the US, Mr Zhao said: “It is a tough question. We will do it when you welcome us here.” Mr Zhao said Geely was preparing to open four assembly plants outside China, including one in Europe and one in Mexico.

The latter is already under construction. He said the new plants would allow the company to reach a total capacity of 1.7 million units by 2015.

Geely also announced plans to launch 15 new models in the next three to five years, and to develop its own Euro V-compliant 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine.

“In the past fi-ve years, Chinese brands have achieved what it took Japanese and Korean brands 20 years to do,” Mr Zhao said.

The ‘Made in China’ tag has suffered in the last year from a series of embarrassing product recalls including the high-profile issue of lead paint found on Mattel toys that drew into question the quality standards of some Chinese manufacturers.

Some Chinese car-makers have also suffered terrible crash-test results that have severely damaged the image of the brands involved.

Asked how Geely models would perform when subjected to European NCAP tests, Mr Xu said: “The Geely product is very close to the quality (required) we work on that,” he said. “I don’t know about other Chinese brands, but we are very close.”

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