The global aspirations of Chery, the largest Chinese vehicle exporter, are very evident from its display at the Johannesburg International Motor Show.

Not only did Chery South Africa preview the two new models arriving next year, in the form of the J2 and J3, but also showcased some of its technology in the form of a turbocharged sports car and an electric commuter car, the Chery M1

Chery Z5

Chery continues to set the pace among Chinese motor companies in terms of its success as an exporter. Earlier this year it became the first Chinese motor manufacturer to export more than 500 000 vehicles. It became Chinese export leader in 2003 and overseas sales now account for more than 20% of the company’s total annual output.

After the first eight months of 2011 its exports totalled 107 851 units, which is an improvement of 88,2% over the same period a year previously. At this rate the company says it will hit its forecast for the year three months before the end of December.

Currently there are three Chery models on the local market, the QQ3 hatch, which is one of the cheapest new cars on the SA market at R69 900, the Tiggo SUV and the J1 hatch.

The entry level QQ3 has an 816cc engine and is offered with two trim and equipment levels, while the J1 is a B-segment hatchback with a 1,3-litre engine delivering 61kW. The popular Tiggo is available with the choice of a 1,6- or 2-litre petrol engine with the larger capacity power unit matched to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic.

The J3 which will arrive next year is an all-new, C-segment hatchback styled by Pininfarina, of Italy. Powered by a 1,6-litre engine it has a high level of standard equipment.

The J2 is another new model, this time a B-segment sedan with a 1,5-litre power unit putting out 80kW. It is well-equipped and versatile, with fold flat rear seat backs that give a large loading area when required. The interior is spacious for a car in this category and has an especially large luggage compartment.

The J2 is the result of Chery’s 4S design concept – Sporty, Science (technology), Space and Safety. It is designed to meet 4-star safety standards.

The Chery M1 EV electric car is in the final testing phase and should go into production early next year in left hand drive to start. The car has a range of about 150km, dependent on driving conditions and then it takes 6-8 hours to recharge the batteries.

The concept sports car is powered by a turbocharged two-litre petrol engine developing 128kW. It has been exhibited at a number of motor shows, but no date has been announced for it to go into production.

The Chery brand arrived in South Africa in 2008, first as an import by the McCarthy Group and subsequently Bidvest and the Imperial Group set up a joint venture, Amalgamated Automobile Distributors (AAD) to distribute and market these products. AAD is performing very well with an expanding product range and an improving sales rate.

Chery, which is only 10 years old, has put a great deal of focus on building international markets and already has a global network of more than 1 000 dealers in more than 80 countries, with the latest being Australia, where the brand was launched in February this year with the introduction of the Tiggo and J1 models to start, followed by the J3 in August.

Chery  has already set up three research and development facilities in China – Anhui, Beijing and Shanghai – as well as R&D operations overseas in Japan, Italy and Australia. The next objective is to fully integrate these resources and to establish a unified global design and development platform, with special attention being given to specific overseas market requirements.

Chery is also in the process of establishing a global component supplier network linked to efficient logistical solutions to get these parts delivered to the various worldwide manufacturing plants. It was stressed that quality will be an overriding factor in selecting component suppliers.

The company is sparing no efforts in improving after-sales service levels, which already includes the establishment of an international after-sales service training centre.