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With its Omoda 5 small SUV putting up handy sales numbers in its first eight months on sale in Australia, challenger brand Chery has its sights set on "the Koreans and Japanese" as the imminent arrival of the new Tiggo 7 Pro mid-size SUV adds even more market firepower.
Asked if more than 4000 Omoda 5 registrations to the end of October this year was in line with or ahead of the company's expectations, Chery Australia Aftersales and Product Director, Lucas Harris, told CarsGuide, "It would be remiss to say it's ahead of our expectations because we have very ambitious goals.
"We're very happy with how it's launched. To have sold over 4000 cars in only seven or eight months with one model. We're pretty satisfied with that," he said.
And there's more to come with a pure-electric version of the Omoda 5 and the larger seven-seat Tiggo 8 Pro scheduled to arrive here in 2024.
Due to go on sale in the second half of the new year, the Omoda 5 EV will have its sights set on rivals like the BYD Atto 3 and MG ZS EV, not to mention the Kia Niro, Hyundai Kona and Nissan Leaf as well as the Peugeot e-2008 and more.
Similarly, the three-row Tiggo 8 Pro, due in early 2024, will not only aim up at the likes of the LDV D90, but the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento, while nipping at the heels of the Ford Everest, Mazda CX-8 and Toyota Prado.
According to Mr Harris the Tiggo 8 was a relatively easy addition to the local line-up given its availability in right-hand-drive production, while confirming the company is considering other (so far left-hand-drive-only) members of the Tiggo SUV family, the city-sized 2, small 4 and full-size 9.
According to Chery Australia Brand and Marketing Director, Mark Vukoja, the new models will help reinforce a clear market positioning for the brand.
"From a product build and quality perspective we are positioning ourselves as the most premium Chinese brand. In ballpark terms, getting close to the Koreans and Japanese.
"We're not going for cheap and cheerful because the product doesn't justify that. We are providing that real value alternative. Solid build, well designed product that will be a strong contender to the majors," he said.
On the subject of potential conquest sales and where Chery buyers are coming from, Vukoja is clear.
"We're not choosing any particular majors that we're going after because we're developing product based on the consumer first and then we're finding a lot of people who are moving to our brand are coming from two sources - Kia and Hyundai - they tend to have been previous owners of those or considering those they come to us, and people who have downgraded from European cars, surprisingly.
"Especially into Omoda, and I'm not surprised given its distinctive appearance. It looks a lot more premium than its price-point suggests and it's getting a lot of those people," he said.
And Lucas Harris makes the point that Chery's retail footprint is increasing rapidly, noting the bulk of the Omoda 5's sales came through a relatively small dealer network.
"We've only just ticked over 60 (dealers) now, but for a lot of that time after (the Omoda 5) launch there were just over 40, so to be able to sell so many vehicles with such small initial network coverage and, really, not a great deal of brand awareness, although we're very happy with how that's going," he said.