The Chery J3 sedan and hatch will tackle the C-segment.
The Chery J3 sedan and hatch will tackle the C-segment.
Chery J2 pitches its tent in the B-segment.
Chery J2 pitches its tent in the B-segment.

China's Chery brand, already known for its QQ, J1, J5 and Tiggo ranges, will soon add a modern zing to its local portfolio with the release of the J2 and J3 line-ups.

The J2, which competes in the B-segment, will be offered in both sedan and hatchback guises.

It's powered by a 1.5-litre engine that's good for 80kW and 140Nm and the car will be offered with a choice of three specification levels.

Before that arrives, however, Chery will introduce South Africans to the stylish J3 - a C-segment sedan and hatchback powered by a 1.6-litre engine that pushes 87kW and 147Nm. It will be available in TE, TX and TXE specification levels.

Chery South Africa cannot yet confirm the local launch date, but it claims that the cars have already been homologated by the SABS.

While these new models look rather promising, we suspect Chery will have to take a different pricing approach to what was taken with the J1 - they'll need to be priced far enough below the mainstream brands if sales success is to be attained, we reckon.

Chery's local distributor, AAD (a joint venture between Imperial Holdings and Bidvest), is looking forward to meaningful growth in 2011 and its managing director, Brett Soso, predicts a bright future going forward.

Addressing a media briefing this week he said that he had just returned from a visit to China and was most impressed with what he had seen, particularly Chery's large and very impressive research and development centre that is now fully operational and represents an investment of R1.47-billion.

"Originally, back in 2009, Chery planned to introduce 25 new models in the next five years, but this total has been cut back significantly so that the company can concentrate on improving quality and ensuring that new models are very well tested before they are launched. This is where the new R&D centre will play a vital role," said Soso.

"We also test products thoroughly in South Africa before local introduction.

"Chery is the No. 1 vehicle exporter from China so AAD is very well-placed with a strong passenger vehicle brand in the South African market, where there have been many new entrants in recent years.

Chery only started production in December 1999 and so far cumulative exports have topped 430 000, with the expectation of passing the 500 000 mark by mid-year. The company currently operates 12 manufacturing plants worldwide, with four more to be added this year.