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More Chinese vehicle makers in the wings

Coming soon: A mystery Chinese vehicle maker is set to join WMC's import stable already includes Joylong, which makes this HiAce-style van.

Importer WMC set to ink another Chinese import deal – and others pending

22 Nov 2011

INDEPENDENT vehicle importer WMC Group hopes to seal its next Chinese vehicle import brand distribution agreement by the end of the year, with more to follow.

The Sydney-based company – whose stable already includes Higer, JAC and Joylong – is putting the final touches on price and specification negotiations for vehicles from the yet-to-be-named manufacturer with whom it has already signed a memorandum of understanding for import rights for Australia.

WMC recently tore up a similar agreement to import light vehicles from another Chinese vehicle maker, Foton, when price negotiations stalled, but WMC Group CEO Jason Pecotic told GoAuto that negotiations for the new acquisition were proceeding more satisfactorily.

“We are just finalising product spec at the moment and pricing at the same time,” he said.

“We have had brief discussions about that and it all looks good, and we should fill out the rest in the next four to six weeks.”

 center imageLeft: JAC Multivan. Below: JAC light truck.

Mr Pecotic, who has just returned from China, said more import deals were expected to follow.

"We are in advanced negotiation for a number of other brands and automotive products, which we plan to bring to the Australian market in 2012 and beyond," he said.

So far, about eight Chinese motor companies have set up export arrangements to Australia, with five already offering vehicles here ranging from light vehicles such as the Chery J1 to heavy trucks and buses from Higer and Foton.

WMC this week announced it had established a Chinese subsidiary, WMC China, to help smooth the path for the company’s burgeoning import business, charged with ensuring quality control, spare parts delivery and on-time shipments.

The operation will be based in Suzhou – north of Shanghai – in the home town of two of WMC’s current brands, Higer buses and Joylong vans.

A staff of three has already been appointed, headed by a former Chinese Higer Bus executive who previously handled the Australian export arrangements.

The centre will carry spare parts for WMC’s Chinese import vehicles, as Chinese manufacturers rarely cover that side of the business, such is the ferocity of the pirate parts trade.

“Our spare parts operation in Suzhou will basically go to all the parts suppliers and carry all the spare parts so we can supply Australia and our dealers so we can have a good parts supply,” Mr Pecotic said.

The operation will also have a research and development facility that will work with the manufacturers to develop new products to Australian standards and keep tabs on quality control at the source – a major issue for emerging Chinese manufacturers.

It will apply a standardised price, quality and specification criteria to all WMC products.

WMC already sells Higer buses in Australia, and is about to take delivery of its first JAC light-duty trucks that will be launched on the Australian market in January.

This launch was to have been staged this month, but when a hold-up with the launch vehicles pushed it towards Christmas, WMC opted to hold it over until after the holidays.

A HiAce-style van made by Joylong is also only weeks from launch through the Higer dealer network A van made by JAC is expected to follow later in 2012, along with products from the new, unnamed manufacturer.

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