Chery considering South African production, bakkie in the planning too

Published Oct 18, 2023


By: Colin Windell

While South Africans still remain in the dark as to Government plans for New Energy Vehicles, the pace of technical development on the global stage continues to hot up and Chery recently hosted media, dealers and customers from its global markets at a conference and exhibition to showcase its next-level developments – with the hint of local assembly and maybe even a bakkie thrown in.

With hybrid technology the most logical route for South Africa and Africa to move towards more environmentally considerate motoring, the advances to Chery's Super Hybrid Platform, known as C-DM, are of particular significance.

It is equipped with Chery's dedicated 1.5-litre turbo hybrid engine, paired with a hybrid-specific 3-speed DHT gearbox, hybrid-specific three-element lithium battery pack and battery management system. This achieves three core advantages: comprehensive high performance, sustained high energy efficiency, and high battery safety.

It boasts impressive performance metrics such as thermal efficiency exceeding 44.5%, accelerating from 0 to 100km/h hour in 4.26 seconds and achieving a super-fast charge from 30% to 80% in only 18 minutes.

Local assembly in South Africa?

Tony Liu, Executive Deputy General Manager of Chery South Africa, says: “The most vital single step for Chery, not only in South Africa to improve the public perception of brand value is the customer oriented strategy.

“As a specific example, we are committed to absorb more than 100-thousand comments or suggestions from our customer base before finalising a new product for the specific market.”

Liu added: “A local assembly operation is definitely under consideration, however we need to look at the overall sales volume and to balance local manufacturing policy, regulations and cost as a first step. We will consider investing in building a factory in South Africa and supplying localised parts through CKD assembly, to better meet the needs of the South African market and surrounding Africa countries.

Vice President of Chery International and CEO of Chery South Africa Chunqing Chen added: “We have drafted a 10-year plan that is quite comprehensive including the ICE/NEW ENERGY and even the Bakkie plan as well.”

“I would say the highlight is next year with a full line-up of Chery plug-in hybrids joining the series and the Omoda/Jaecoo luxury offerings launching quite soon,” Liu added.

Intelligent cabins and autonomous driving

Over the next five years, Chery is poised to invest more than 100-billion yuan (R260-billion) in R&D and simultaneously establish 300 ‘Yao Guang Laboratories’ worldwide.

These will primarily focus on strategic technologies related to intelligent cabins and autonomous driving. This concerted effort aims to establish the foundational elements necessary for crafting an internationally competitive brand with a global presence.

Zhang Shengshan, Executive Deputy General Manager of Chery International, said: “Chery has currently expanded into 80 countries and regions worldwide, with 12-million global users. Over the past four years, Chery's compound growth rate has reached a remarkable 91%, brand awareness has surged by 300%, brand reputation has risen by 91%, and the net recommendation rate has exceeded 60%.”

Chery Holding Group's Party Secretary and Chairman, Yin Tongyue, added: "Currently, cars have transformed from mere a means of transportation tools for users into mobile living spaces, and automotive companies are expanding their horizons. In line with this, Chery International Corporation continues to explore and is committed to creating a new ecology for users, while empowering user potential to achieve higher brand objectives."

Matching demand with consumers

More specifically for South African motorists, the company confirmed product would be launched to match the demand of consumers with more options on all-wheel drive models such as the Tiggo 7 Pro Max and that its new energy products will gradually cover various segmented markets and vehicle levels, including plug-in hybrid, pure electric and extended-range electric and electric four-wheel drive.

Chery SA CEO Chunqing Chen confirmed the company has started expanding the dealer network into Africa and now has a presence in Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, and Mauritius.

“This is just the beginning though. Intensive research and feasibility studies are in progress to ensure that Chery expands in Africa.”