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Geneva show: Qoros queues up for Oz

Grand entrance: The all-new VW Golf-rivalling Qoros 3 won plenty of attention at this week’s Geneva motor show.

Fledgling Chinese brand has commenced studies for Australian market entry

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Qoros logo6 Mar 2013

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in GENEVA

CHINESE start-up brand Qoros has revealed it is “actively investigating” the Australian market and building a case for launching its all-new range of vehicles here once right-hand-drive production gets underway.

A decision is expected before the end of this year, although a sales launch is still up to two years away as the company is initially focusing on left-hand-drive markets with its European-focused Qoros 3 small sedan and other model variants previewed at the Geneva motor show this week, including a hatchback and station wagon.

Qoros Automotive Company Limited head of sales, marketing, and product strategy Stefano Villanti told GoAuto in Geneva overnight that Australia is considered an important market for the fledgling Chinese brand.

“We are considering it … we are actively investigating it,” he said.

“We are considering all RHD markets and exploring all opportunities available to us.

“But I think it would be more than one year at least (before there is any chance of seeing Qoros in Australia).

“The next few months a decision is due for sure because we are actively investigating it now.”

Although a number of importers have already approached Qoros about the possibility of handling distribution in Australia, Mr Villanti said an announcement was still some time off.

“Actually several have already contacted us,” he revealed.

“But it is still too early (to reveal anything) because we haven’t as yet decided.”

Qoros used this week’s Geneva show as its global brand debut, flagging its intention to become a worldwide player.

The Volkswagen Golf-sized Qoros 3 will be released in China in the second half of this year, with European sales following soon after.

Unlike any Chinese brand currently available in Australia, Mr Villanti said Qoros would not position itself as a low-cost alternative to mainstream rivals like the Toyota Corolla.

In Europe, prices kick off from just under €28,000 ($A35,640).

“The segment the 3 is competing in is in the Golf segment, and the customers we are targeting are across this segment, but we are offering more than a value-for-money proposition,” he said.

“The Qoros 3 is also about nice styling, very novel infotainment system, and offering a lot of car. It is more an upper-segment car than a lower-segment one. So it’s not about the lowest price.”

Joining the sedan on the Swiss stage was a pair of related hatchback and wagon concept models that are also destined for production soon, with European sales expected within the next 12 months.

According to Qoros, a new model will be released in six-to-12-month intervals, with all sharing common platform architecture.

“Rapid expansion of the model range will be achieved thanks to an innovative modular vehicle architecture developed in-house,” the company says.

With all models having “no legacies and no paradigms” as far as age or connection with older vehicles are concerned, the company says its platform was designed for the highest European crash test performance and quality on a par with the best western standards.

Currently about 150,000 3s will be manufactured every year at a new facility in Changshu, China, with production capability expected to stretch to around 450,000 units annually if required.

As GoAuto reported in November last year, hot-weather testing and validation work was undertaken in Australia for a vehicle believed to be the 3.

At the time, it was known as the GQ3 until Audi AG took exception owing to the name’s closeness to the German company’s compact SUV.

However, the dispute between Qoros and Kia has yet to be resolved, according to vice-chairman of Qoros Automotive, Volker Steinwascher.

“We are still in discussion,” he said.

“(But) there is no dispute with me. We are registered as Qoros and later Kia came with Quoris (the flagship rear-drive sedan based on the Hyundai Genesis). This name was first, registered three years ago.”

Qoros was established in 2007 as an equal joint venture between Chery Automobile and Israel Corporation, an industrial holding company.

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