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Chery shifts down on Australian research arm

Downshift: Chery’s Beta 5, which appeared in concept form last year, is yet to reveal itself in production guise.

Chinese car-maker liquidates assets of Sydney-based CAAT Engineering

General News logo6 May 2014

By BARRY PARK

ADMINISTRATORS will soon wind up an Australian transmission engineering company owned by China’s biggest automotive exporter after its shareholders voted last week to liquidate its assets.

Silverwater-based CAAT Engineering, formerly known as the Chery Automobile Engineering Research Institute Sydney, appointed a liquidator on April 16 after a general meeting of the company’s members voted to wind up the company.

CAAT Engineering specialised in the development of gearbox and driveline systems for the Chinese car-maker. At the time it was wound up, the research and development centre was believed to have been working on an all-new gearbox for a prototype vehicle.

It is believed the cancellation of this vehicle stopped the flow of development money from Chery, with the car-maker – which is also the engineering centre’s only shareholder and the licenced maker of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in China – voting to liquidate it.

Liquidator Darrin Payne, of Insol Group, said the company had employed 16 workers who were told of the company’s decision at a meeting held after the vote to sell off CAAT Engineering’s assets.

“We’re going through the process of realising the company’s assets,” Mr Payne told GoAuto. “Employees obviously get a priority in respect of their entitlements.

“The liquidators will obviously liaise with the head company in respect to the liquidation generally, and employee entitlements.”

Mr Payne said more information about the liquidation of CAAT Engineering would be made available soon.

Chery is believed to be working on a compact SUV based on the Beta5 concept revealed at last year’s Shanghai car show in China.

The concept is expected to use either a supercharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, or a slightly more powerful 2.0-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder engine.

The as-yet unseen production version of the Beta 5 was expected to make its debut around April this year.

Chris Walton, the chief executive of engineering union Professionals Australia, said the decision to close down CAAT Engineering was regrettable.

“It is always a sad day to hear news like this. Particularly when we know that automotive engineering can have a strong future in Australia.

“Australian automotive engineers are recognised as global leaders – we can’t afford to lose their capacity to innovate and create.

“We need to do all we can to keep high-skill, high-value auto engineering jobs in Australia, for our economy and as a source of innovation for other industries.”

Mr Walton said Professionals Australia had urged the federal and state governments to work with Holden, and other automotive engineering companies, to ensure Australia remained a global hub for automotive engineering.

“We are very pleased that Ford has committed to keeping its engineering operations in Australia beyond 2017.

“This will see the company retain around 1000 engineers and design staff here, and most importantly it will see Ford move from a manufacturing to a R&D business in Australia,” he said.

“It is not too late – there is still a future for automotive engineering here.”

Holden announced last week that it would roll back its decision to close the Lang Lang proving ground south-east of Melbourne and retain about 80 workers at the site, although only 20 are believed to remain there in an engineering capacity.

GM International Operations president Stefan Jacoby said last week the proving ground would remain open to develop local steering and suspension tuning that would appeal to Australian customers of the soon-to-be full-line importer once local car-making is switched off in late 2017.

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