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The great maul of China: BYD's HiLux-fighting ute and GWM's Prado-punishing 4WD set to make 2024 the year of the Chinese car in Australia

BYD's ute will be the brand's first plug-in hybrid in Australia.

193,433. That's how many Chinese-built vehicles were sold in Australia in 2023, with that number soaring from 122,845 in 2022, 76,262 in 2021, and just 30,696 in 2020.

It's a staggering growth trajectory, and one that has carmakers from Japan and elsewhere worried.

CarsGuide was at last year's Tokyo Mobility Show, and the talk amongst almost all local manufacturers was the looming threat of China, and how the country's lightning-fast production methods and ability to take a vehicle from a blank piece of paper to a showroom floor in the blink of an eye was forcing everyone else to play catchup.

In Australia, Made In China has become so ubiquitous in the new-car world that it's not just Chinese brands that make up the numbers, but almost every Tesla sold here, all Polestar vehicles, some BMWs and Volvos, and many more.

But you also can't ignore the monstrous growth of China's own brands, and with a packed launch schedule for 2024, that momentum will only grow.

Will China topple Japan, like it has already done Korea, this year? It just might. Here's what's coming up.

BYD Ute and SUV

It's another big year for Chinese upstart (in Australia, at least...) BYD, with the world's biggest EV player planning two new models for this market: a ute and a mid-size SUV.

It's part of the brand's bold strategy to become a top-five player in Australia – and to eventually topple Toyota to become number one – by launching into our most popular segments.

BYD, with the world's biggest EV player planning two new models for this market: a ute and a mid-size SUV.

Interestingly, neither are EVs. Instead, both deploy BYD's DMi (or dual-motor intelligence) plug-in hybrid systems.

"It is the best of both worlds – 100km range on pure electric, and then switch over to the dual-motor technology. So we're going to have a vehicle of circa-1000km, if not more range, but when you're driving around the city you'll be fully electric," says BYD importer Luke Todd.

The second model will be a Toyota RAV4-sized plug-in hybrid SUV, expected to be the Song Plus DM-i, though which model exactly is yet to be confirmed by BYD.

Chery Omoda 5 and and Tiggo 8 Pro

New again Chinese brand Chery has three models in the pipeline for 2024, including two new variants of the already-launched Omoda 5, and a flagship SUV.

The Omoda 5 is expected to get a punchy 1.6-litre turbo engine and AWD early in 2024, and will be followed by an all-electric version, the Omoda 5 EV, a little later in the year.

First, the Omoda 5 is expected to get a punchy 1.6-litre turbo engine and AWD early in 2024, and will be followed by an all-electric version, the Omoda 5 EV, a little later in the year.

But all eyes will be on the Tiggo 8 Pro SUV, which should land in Australia before the end of the year, and will likely feature the brand's first plug-in hybrid powertrain, pairing a 1.5-litre petrol engine with dual electric motors – and delivering an all-electric driving range of around 75km.

LDV Electric T60 ute

LDV was first to market with an all-electric ute, but the eT60 EV will be replaced sometime this year with a new version that ups the capability considerably.

The promise is that it will be super capable, which was forecast in the LDV ute concept revealed in Shanghai. That model got four electric motors for a total 746kW (which is a lot...), and a circa-1000km driving range thanks to a prototype solid-state battery pack.

The eT60 EV will be replaced sometime this year with a new version that ups the capability considerably.

Which of those wondrous figures and technologies will make it to a production version remains to be seen, but we do know it won't be cheap.

GWM ute and Tank 500

GWM will update its ute in 2024 with a fresh facelift, but the real buzz will be around its Tank 500, which will take the fight to the Toyota LandCruiser Prado.

The real buzz will be around its Tank 500, which will take the fight to the Toyota LandCruiser Prado.

The five-metre-long Tank 500 shares its underpinnings with an even larger version of the brand's ute, and borrows its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 (260kW and 500Nm) petrol engine, too.

MG Cyberster, MG HS, MG3 and MG5

Already Australia's best-selling Chinese brand, recording some 58,346 sales last year to finish seventh, MG has a bumper year ahead, with updates to some of its best-selling models and new stock arriving.

The MG Cyberster, a six-figure, all-electric sports car that will arrive in the second half of 2024.

That starts with the MG Cyberster, a six-figure, all-electric sports car that will arrive in the second half of 2024. On the more sedate side of the business, an all-new MG3 is expected in 2024, along with updates to the MG5 and MG HS.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to...
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