Chinese cars: an Aussie guide

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They may not be as recognisable on Australian roads as their European or Japanese counterparts, but the big advantage is they're generally cheaper.

Chinese cars have been sold in Australia since 2009, when distributor Ateco Automotive began importing Great Wall utesi. Chery, Geely, MG, Foton, ZX Auto, Haval and JMC followed. The brands compete predominantly on price with further impacts possible from the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) due to be signed this yearii.

Foton's Tunland single cab one-tonne diesel ute has a Cummins 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine. Photo:

Mid-size vehicles

Foton, ZX Autoiii, Great Wall and JMC sell utes, with Foton's Tunland diesel utes from $21,990iv for a single cab 4x2 configuration and JMC's Vigus range starting at $23,990v for a 4x2 dual cab petrol modelv.

Great Wall's V200 diesel utes are from $23,990 for a single cab 4x4, $24,990 for a diesel dual cab 4x2 ute and $27,990 for a diesel dual cab 4x4 ute. Its V240 utes are from $18990 for the single cab 4x2 petrol and are also available in 4x4 and dual cab configurationsvi. Its X200 diesel and X240 petrol 4x4 SUVs start at $23,990vii. The diesel is available with an automatic transmission. The X200 and X240 will compete, controversially , with sub-brand Haval when the latter launches in June this year.

Haval is bringing to Australia three SUV models from $20,000ix. The smallest of the three, the H2, will compete with the Honda HR-V, while the largest, the H9, will compete with the Toyota Pradoix.

Small cars

In the smaller passenger car space, Chery's J3 five-door hatch is $14,990x - 25 per cent less than the similarly sized Toyota Yarisxi - while its $19,990xii J11 is significantly cheaper than its SUV peersxiii.

Meanwhile, Chinese giant SAIC will shortly relaunchxiv its manual-only, mid-sized MG6 sedan, after reportedly selling "fewer than 50 vehicles" in its first year in Australiaxv.

Chinese car imports peaked in 2012xvi, accounting for 0.6 per cent of new road vehicles in Australia that yearxvii. Sales fell sharply after 25,000 Great Wall and Chery cars were recalled over asbestos concernsxvii, and as better-known Japanese brands cut prices on the back of a favourable exchange ratexix.

Chinese cars have been sold in Australia since 2009, when distributor Ateco Automotive began importing Great Wall utes. By Qwerty242 (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Chinese car makers produced 5.3 million cars in the three months to Marchxx, of which 2.3 million were sold domesticallyxxi. According to the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Chinese cars now represent 0.21 per cent of new cars sold in Australia, accounting for only 593 of 277,594 car sales in the three months to Marchxxii.

Several Chinese models struggle with poor safety ratingsxxiii, scoring fewer than the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) recommendation of four out of five starsxxiv. Great Wall this year highlighted Western safety requirements among several reasons for shifting its focus from Australia back to China's booming domestic marketxxv.

iO'Kane, T. 2009, 'Great Wall Motors launches first Chinese-made cars into Australian market', The Motor Report, 24 June, viewed 3 May 2015,

iiPrime Minister of Australia 2014, Landmark China-Australia free trade agreement, 17 November, viewed 23 March 2015,

iiiLague, S. 2012, 'GrandTiger adds to Chinese menu', Yahoo! News, 18 August, viewed 3 May 2015,

ivFoton Motors, Price list, viewed 8 May 2015,

vJMC Vigus, Introducing the all new Vigus, viewed 8 May 2015,

viGreat Wall Motors, Price list, viewed 8 May 2015,

viiGreat Wall Motors, Showroom, viewed 3 May 2015,

viiiBeissmann, T. 2015, 'Great Wall's Australian future still up in the air as dispute continues', Car Advice, 23 April, viewed 3 May 2015,

ixDowling, J. 2015, 'Haval SUVs headed for Australia', Cars Guide, 24 April, viewed 3 May 2015,

xChery Motors, Chery J3 overview, viewed 2 May 2015,

xiToyota Australia, Yaris prices, viewed 3 May 2015,

xiiChery Motors, New Chery J11 SUV overview, viewed 3 May 2015,

xiiiBlackburn, R. 2011, 'Chery not pick of the crop but it's cheap motoring', Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February, viewed 3 May 2015,

xivStevens, M. 2015, 'Updated MG6 teased for April debut', The Motor Report, 23 March, viewed 3 May 2015,

xvHall, S. 2014, 'MG Australia goes back to the drawing board', Drive, 24 March, viewed 3 May 2015,

xviDowling, J. 2012, 'Chinese cars outselling premium brands', Cars Guide, 24 November, viewed 3 May 2015,

xviiAustralian Government Climate Change Authority 2014, Light vehicle emissions standards for Australia, viewed 3 May 2015,

xviii'Chinese cars recalled over asbestos concerns', ABC News, 15 August 2012, viewed 3 May 2015,

iDowling, J. 2014, 'Great fall of Chinese cars', Cars Guide, 26 June, viewed 1 May 2015,

xixChina Association of Automobile Manufacturers 2015, The sales and production of passenger cars kept growth, viewed 1 May 2015,

xxChina Association of Automobile Manufacturers 2014, The market share of Chinese brand passenger cars increased, viewed 1 May 2015,

xxiFederal Chamber of Automotive Industries, VFACTS national: New vehicle sales by country of origin, March 2015, viewed

iDowling, J. 2014, 'Chinese utes slammed again for poor crash safety rating, as Australian sales slide',, 22 September, viewed 3 May 2015,

xxiiRiley, C. 2015, 'Chinese car sales hit the wall', Cars Guide, 23 January, viewed 3 May 2015,

xxiiiXinhua, 2015, 'The rise and fall of China's Great Wall in Australia', Want China Times, 10 January, viewed 3 May 2015,