La firma Chery se fundó en 1997. Sin embargo, en estos años ya ha vendido más de 1,5 millón de unidades, y en 2009 espera colocar 419.000 autos en todo el mundo.
Para conseguir estos objetivos, la exportación ha sido la piedra angular de Chery, ya que si en 2001 sólo llegaba a Siria, hoy está presente en más de 70 países. Y ahora se plantea entrar a Brasil y México, trampolín directo para llegar a EE UU.
Pero a futuro, la mira está puesta en el vehículo eléctrico, lo que se pudo apreciar en el Salón de Shanghai, donde tenía un stand especial para sus híbridos Tiggo 3, A3 y Fullwin, más una versión plug-in del Riich M1, que puede recorrer hasta 120 km con una carga de electricidad.
Pero no se trata de las únicas apuestas de vehículos eléctricos de Chery. El pasado 16 de febrero sacó su primer vehículo eléctrico, el S18, modelo que debe estar a la venta a finales de 2009 o comienzos del próximo año.
El primer auto eléctrico del fabricante asiático Chery acaba de salir de las líneas de ensamblaje de la planta china de Wuhu. Se llama S18 y está basado en el citycar IQ2, que ya fue exhibido.
El coche eléctrico de 4 puertas y cinco asientos costará 14.600 dólares, poco más de 11.000 euros. Comenzará a comercializarse en China en 2010.
La batería es de 40 kW. La mayoría de los expertos señalan que el coste de las baterías de ión litio asciende a 1.000 dólares por kWh, por lo que Chery es capaz de producir baterías con una importante ventaja comparativa sobre otras empresas competidoras.
‘Big Chery’ Has Big Electric Plans
Chery showed off a couple of electric vehicle concepts: the Riich M1 EV and Tiggo 3 EV, both powered by advanced lithium phosphate batteries. Joining these two EVs at the auto show were hybrid versions of the automaker’s A3 small car and Futwin Coupe II, and just a few months earlier, Chery introduced the S18 electric hatchback, its first electric car ever.
That’s a lot of electrified automobiles, and Chery reportedly has big plans in store for them. According to company director Yin Tongyue, all five of these models will make it into production by 2010 – an ambitious target to be sure. When it’s all said and done, Chery plans to offer electric vehicles in the minicar, small sedan, midsize sedan, SUV and MPV segments.
Well, nobody can accuse Wuhi, China-based Chery Automobile of a lack of ambition. The company plans to bring three electric vehicles and two hybrid-electric cars to the market by next year, director Yin Tongyue told the Xinkuai Newspaper (hat tip Gasgoo.com and AutoblogGreen).
But it could prove more difficult to turn electric concept vehicles into real production vehicles than Chery expects. After all, other ambitious companies have taken longer to mass produce new electric cars, from the time they unveiled their concepts, and delays have been a common occurrence. Tesla Motors suffered several well-publicized delays in the delivery of its first electric car, the Roadster, due to transmission troubles. The company had delivered only 300 of the sports cars by early this month, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Venturi, which originally intended to begin production of its Fetish sports car in 2007, now plans to deliver the first Fetish in June. And Phoenix Motorcars, after two years trying to produce electric trucks and SUVs for the fleet market, has filed for bankruptcy, as we noted earlier today.
Founded in 1997, Chery produced its first car in 1999 and announced it had exceeded 1.5 million in car sales earlier this month. So it is used to working fast.
Tongyue said the company already began producing its S18, an electric sedan, in February, and plans to begin selling the car at the end of this year or beginning of next year. Chery displayed the two other planned electric vehicles, a minivan, called the Riich M1 EV, and a small SUV called the Tiggo 3 EV, as concepts at the Shanghai Motor Show last week. The automaker also plans to make hybrid versions of its A3, a compact car, and a coupe called Futwin Coupe II.
But Chery isn’t unaccustomed to setbacks either. The company in 2007 ended plans to develop cars with Chrysler.
It also can expect plenty of competition. Aside from the above-mentioned cars, there’s the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid and Tesla Motor’s Model S, a midrange electric sedan.
And last month, Norway’s Think announced plans to bring its Think City electric car to the country by 2010. In January, the company got a bridge loan to keep it afloat, after it had halted production.
Even if Chery can get all of its planned models out on time, Mike Omotoso, senior manager of global powertrain research at JD Power, thinks five is too many for the market. So far, BYD, a Chinese company that launched its electric F3DM car in December, “hasn’t sold too many of their vehicles,” he said. While JD Power expects the Chery S18 to be more successful than the F3DM — it’s priced at $14,600, as opposed to $22,000 — the price is still high compared with regular gasoline vehicles in China, he said.
“Technically they can do it, but I don’t think there’s a market for five electric vehicles in such a short period of time,” he said. “The price of gas needs to go up significantly before there’s more demand for electric vehicles, whether in China, here, or anyone else.”