SALES of Chinese-made cars fell substantially in 2014 – down 41.4 percent – as private buyers shopped elsewhere.
Great Wall sales fell a whopping 56.8 percent to 2637 compared to 6105 in 2013. None of its models posted sales growth, all posting declines of more than 50 per cent.
Fellow Chinese brand Chery dropped 34.4 percent, moving only 592 vehicles against the previous year’s 903. Its most popular model, the J3 – a Hyundai i30-size small car priced from $14,990 – sold 292 units, well down on its 2013 result of 468.
Great Wall importer Ateco cites currency fluctuation for the Chinese brands losing their former price advantage, and subsequent sales dip. "We are suffering because of increased competitive pressure and the depreciation of the yen that has eroded what was a great advatage," says Ateco's Daniel Cotterill. "As well, Great Wall hasn't been as quick as they'd like – or we'd like – in updating its right-hand drive models."
The commercial sector saw the only good news for Chinese makes. Foton Heavy sold 174 vehicles against 84 in 2013 for a 107.1 percent growth, while Foton Light, its passenger-car division, sold 537 cars in its first full year on sale.
Several Chinese brands sold in Australia aren't represented in the official VFACTS sales figures release by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, including Geely and ZX Auto.
Australians continue to purchase more cars from Japan than anywhere else, with Japanese models making up almost one-third (329,009) of all new cars sold in 2014. However, this was 9.1 percent fewer than in 2013.
Thailand was next with 226,936 vehicles (down 0.7 percent) while South Korean cars accounted for 130,777 sales (down 3.1 percent).
Australia manufactured 100,468 cars sold last year (down 15.2 percent), with Holden’s 54,299 more than Ford’s 18,962 and Toyota’s 27,207 combined.