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Chery is back, but is it better? MG, BYD, GWM rival promises it has changed

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The new Omoda 5 scored the maximum five stars in Europe safety tests.
The new Omoda 5 scored the maximum five stars in Europe safety tests.

Ten years ago Chinese carmaker Chery left Australia with its tail between its legs after being rocked by several scandals including an asbestos scare and dismal crash test results. Now Chery is back having just launched its Omoda 5 SUV in Australia but are its woes behind it?

The Omoda 5 was unveiled this week ahead of an on-sale date in late March. The small SUV with its striking design and tech-filled cabin appears to be an enormous leap forward from the models Chery offered to Australia from 2011 to 2013.

In 2011 Chery’s J11 small SUV scored a concerning two out of a maximum five stars in its ANCAP crash safety report. In the same year the brand’s J1 light hatch only managed three stars. At the same time, cars like the Hyundai i40 and Holden Cruze both scored the maximum five stars.

Recalls were issued to improve safety, but the following year Chery’s J3 and J11 were hit by another recall due to asbestos in its exhaust manifold gaskets.

The brand’s reputation was tarnished and the company left Australian shores in 2013.

A decade on Chery is back in Australia and senior executives say a lot has changed for the better.

“I think the biggest difference coming here this time around has been a factory subsidiary,” Chery Australia’s sales director Lucas Harris said.

“There’s been significant global investment in R&D and production techniques and so the product coming now is a significant step up in terms of quality and that is going to be a huge part of our success along with being a factory subsidiary.”

The signs do look positive with the Omoda 5 small SUV scoring the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP test - the European equivalent of our ANCAP.

ANCAP will crash test the Omoda 5 but CarsGuide understands this will take place in the near future. 

“It’s also about having the resources and support behind us so that we can do the right thing and support our customers,” Harris said.

Chery claims it will have a national coverage of dealers by the end of March, including every capital city in every state.

The company will also back its product with a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, seven years capped-price servicing and roadside assistance for the same duration. 

Chery plans an aggressive return to Australia spearheaded by the Omoda 5. Initially only available with a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine a more powerful 1.6-litre turbo petrol will follow by the end of this year along with the Tiggo 7 Pro mid-sized SUV and the Tiggo 8 Pro large SUV.

Pricing for the Omoda 5 is still under wraps, however, Chery says buyers can expect to pay less than $40,000 driveaway for the entry grade.

In 2024 Chery will launch an all electric version of its Omoda 5.

Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
Richard had wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was a small child. He was so determined that he made it through two years of a physics degree, despite zero mathematical ability. Unable to build a laser in an exam and failing to solve the theoretical challenge of keeping a satellite in orbit, his professor noted the success Richard was enjoying in the drama and writing courses he had been doing on the side. Even though Richard couldn’t see how a degree in story-telling and pretending would ever get him a job, he completed one anyway. Richard has since been a best-selling author and a journalist for 20 years, writing about science, music, finance, cars, TV, art, film, cars, theatre, architecture, food, and cars. He also really likes cars, and has owned an HQ ute, Citroen 2CV, XW Falcon, CV8 Monaro and currently, a 1951 Ford Tudor. A husband and dad, Richard’s hobbies also include astronomy.
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