FAW ENTERS SA CAR AND LCV MARKET WITH TWO SIRIUS MODELS
FAW, which is one of the powerhouses of the booming Chinese automotive industry, has been a player in the SA truck market for almost 20 years. Now it is launching a range of light commercials and passenger cars through an independent and separate organisation that is part of the Imperial Group.
FAW Trucks, in contrast, is a standalone company in which FAW of China has had a shareholding since the year 2000.
The first FAW LCV arrival on the SA shores is the Sirius 7-seater people carrier and a panel van derivative, both priced very competitively at R159 995 and R149 995 respectively. Initially the Sirius will be powered by a 1,3-litre petrol engine, with a 1,5-litre version joining the range later.
What really sets it apart is the very high level of standard equipment, which is the same for both the 7-seater and panel van.
Standard specification includes alloy wheels (including the spare), air conditioning, dual airbags, ABS brakes, remote control central locking, power steering, electric windows, audio system consisting of a radio with MP3 player and USB port, remote keyless entry, front and rear fog lamps, alarm immobiliser, headlamp levelling, child locks for the rear doors of the 7-seater and LED indicator repeaters in the front of the vehicle and in the exterior rear view mirrors.
The two Sirius models will be retailed initially through 13 of the existing AMH multi-franchise dealers and an independent outlet in Witbank. FAW LCV and passenger car general manager, Pedro Pereira, says that ideally he would like to grow the representation to 22 dealers to cover all major centres.
The introduction of the versatile Sirius models will be followed in early 2013 by the launch of the small V2 hatchback, with a choice of 1,3- or 1,5-litre petrol engines,. A B-segment sedan will join the line-up by mid-year.
The Sirius models are very popular in the Chinese domestic market but so far they have been exported only to the Middle East and North Africa. South Africa is the first right-hand drive market to get the Sirius.
A number of FAW’s LCV and passenger car models were displayed at the Johannesburg Motor Show in 2008, but they were all left-hand drive. At the time there was pressure on the company to supply the Chinese domestic market with LHD vehicles, while exports were put on the backburner, especially for those countries requiring right-hand drive models.
Sirius evaluation units have been subjected to a local lest programme to ensure suitability of the vehicle for the African market and the company was very satisfied with the results. Some changes were affected following this evaluation, including the design and fitment of a retractable cover for the cargo space in the 7-seater and the fitment of hooks to hold the seatbelts for the rearmost seat when they are not in use.
The evaluation units were very well accepted by the target market in customer research too, with many of these people being surprised by the high level of standard equipment on both variants.
The enthusiastic FAW general manager said that he and his team are particularly impressed with the high quality of the Sirius, both in terms of fit- and-finish and the materials used, such as the carpeting.
Initially the FAW Sirius will be available only with a 1,3-litre petrol engine, but, as mentioned previously, the option of a 1,5-litre engine will become available at a later date. Power output of the 1,3-litre engine is 67kW at 6 000r/min, with 120N.m of torque available at 4 000r/min. Fuel consumption of 7,4l/100km on the combined cycle is claimed.
Transmission is a five-speed manual gearbox and drive is through the rear wheels.
Front suspension is independent with Macpherson struts, while the solid rear axle has a coil-sprung multi-link suspension..
Load capacities for the two models are 525kg for the 7-seater (including occupants and load) and 545kg for the panel van (including driver, passenger and load).
The panel van can tow an unbraked trailer of 450kg and the 7-seater is rated at 600kg. The loading space in the panel van, which has an aluminium plate floor fitted at the FAW factory in China, is 1 670mm long, 1 270mm wide and 1 070mm high.
Both models are covered by a 3-year/100 000km factory warranty, one year roadside assistance and a 4-year/60 000km service plan.
General manager Pedro Pereira says there is a full range of service and replacement parts in stock with a technical support team from FAW in China based at the FAW LCV and passenger car head office in Boksburg.
FAW is one of the leading companies in the Chinese motor industry. Besides producing its own vehicles it has joint ventures with Volkswagen/Audi, Mazda, Toyota and General Motors to produce vehicles for these major global players.
The FAW Group’s total sales in 2011 were over 2,6 million passenger and commercial vehicles and it ranked 165th in the Forbes Fortune 500. The group now employs more than 130 000 people.
FAW, which was founded in 1953 is already represented in more than 100 countries and is currently expanding its export programme with the FAW Group Import and Export Corporation having exported over 100 000 built up vehicles or vehicle kits worldwide since its establishment .
FAW is showing its commitment to South Africa with the erection of a manufacturing facility in the Coega Industrial Development Zone near Port Elizabeth. The plant will have an initial annual output of 5 000 trucks a year with passenger cars and light commercials going into production in the future.
The initial investment and planned expansions amount to more than R600-million. The R200-million construction investment will see more than 1 000 jobs created during the building phase and is scheduled for completion in December 2013.
“We at FAW passenger cars and LCVs are very excited about the future as we know we will be getting quality products from China’s leading automotive company and will offer top class back-up service through a countrywide dealer network to ensure cost effective motoring and transport solutions,” concluded GM Pedro Pereira.