WA-based Chinese Automotive Distributors, part of the John Hughes Group and the national distributor for both Geely and ZX Auto, says it demanded a minimum four-star crash rating for the Cruze-size Geely EC7 sedan before considering selling it in Australia.
Geely's recent testing to ANCAP standards didn't meet its importer's demands, halting plans to introduce the car to Australia. A director of the group, Rod Gailey, says CAD wanted a minimum of a four-star ANCAP crash test rating for the Cruze-size sedan before considering it for sale in Australia.
“The EC7, which had previously scored a Euro four-star rating, recorded a sub-four star rating despite additional safety equipment such as electronic stability control and six airbags,” he says.
He says the decision to halt the import plans was one made both by CAD and Geely. “The minimum four-star crash rating was agreed by both Geely and ourselves before Geely conducted the tests,” he says.
“We insisted, and Geely agreed, that we wouldn't import the car until it reached a four-star or above crash test rating and unfortunately it didn't meet our expectations.
“So Geely and ourselves have put everything on hold.” Mr Gailey says it was possible that the body structure of the car is at fault. He says Geely indicates it isn't economically viable to re-engineer the car to meet higher safety standards for Australia's small volume market.
He says it could take 18-24 months for Geely before a new range of models - now in the post-design stage - that satisfy Australian demands for safety and features would be available for Australia. “But Geely has told us that the new cars won't be cheap,” he says.
“This will be a new generation of models that will be more competitive in terms of design, engineering and performance so I can't see them being available at the lower-end of the price market.” Mr Gailey says the EC7 was a “quantum leap” ahead of the first Australian-sold Geely, the MK1.5. “But even the EC7 is not engineered for the mature markets,” he says.
“We continue to remain involved with Geely, working in partnership on their future model platforms whilst maintaining sales and service support for the Geely MK in Western Australia.” Geely has a range of sedans and SUVs that have potential in the Australian market. The company, which owns Volvo, now sells to 30 countries and exported 100,000 cars in 2012.