GEELY MK SEDAN
The Australian new car market is set for a shake-up in 2011, beginning this month with the arrival of Chinese brand Geely through Perth-based importer Chinese Automotive Distributors.
Making headlines recently for its purchase of Swedish carmaker Volvo, Geely (pronounced jee-lee) has manufactured and sold its own passenger cars in the Chinese market since 2001.
With a drive-away price of $11,990, the 69kW 1.5 litre petrol MK will rival the already low price of the Suzuki Alto, which currently carries an identical drive-away price of $11,990 for the manual Alto GL.
For its sub-$12,000 price tag, the Toyota Yaris-sized MK is equipped with a five-speed manual transmission only, along with air-conditioning, two front airbags, remote central locking, alloy wheels and power windows. Sweetening the deal is a five-year warranty.
Two variants of the MK are expected to be offered, in entry level GL form and a top-shelf GT version getting leather seats, sunroof and tinted glass. Both models will feature the same 1.5 litre engine.
East coast buyers keen to test-drive the first Australian-delivered Geely will need to include an aeroplane ticket in their budget, because the MK will only be sold in Western Australia - and only at all for the next two years.
Speaking with News Ltd, high-profile dealer and importer John Hughes confirmed that without electronic stability control, the MK cannot be sold in Victoria, and when the second stage of Australia's ESC laws become effective in 2013, it will not be able to be sold anywhere in Australia without ESC added to its standard features. (Click to read more about these laws)
An east-coast debut for Geely is not far away however, with the brand's second offering, the Panda LC, arriving in the coming months (likely debuting at Melbourne's Australian International Motor Show in July) with both stability control and an automatic transmission.
Later in the year, Geely will launch the larger EC7 sedan, powered by a 1.8 litre petrol engine.
Among China's more prominent carmakers, Geely seems well-matched with Hughes, renowned for his role in launching and distributing the now hugely-successful Hyundai brand in Australia in the 1980s.