Al Habtoor Motors is bringing “premium” bargain price Chinese SUVs to the UAE.
Chery is China’s largest passenger vehicle exporter with a presence in more than 80 countries, including Iran and Brazil.
But vehicles from the company’s line-up are going on sale in the UAE for the first time next week, when Al Habtoor opens the first Chery showroom in the country.
“Three or four groups in the UAE wanted it, which is why I am so proud we got it,” said Karl Hamer, the managing director of Al Habtoor Motors.
“It’s the premium Chinese brand.”
However, the prices are anything but. Cars start at Dh43,000 for the E5, a family sedan with a chassis tuned by the British sports and racing company Lotus.
The 2-litre Tiggo, which is about the same size as a Nissan Qashqai or Kia Sportage, costs just Dh53,000, making it one of the cheapest SUVs on the market.
“Next year we are bringing in another car, a very small hatchback, and we will bring in a large sedan and a larger SUV. So at the end of next year we will probably have eight products. This year we will have four, three cars and one bus,” said Mr Hamer.
Chery was founded in 1997 and makes everything from passenger cars to commercial vehicles and mini vans. It is the first Chinese car manufacturer to export more than 700,000 units, and it has sold more than 4 million vehicles worldwide in the past decade.
The first Chery showroom will open on Wednesday on Dubai’s Airport Road, next door to Al Futtaim Honda, while another will follow in the first quarter of next year in Abu Dhabi.
It is one of two Chinese car brands Al Habtoor plans to introduce to the UAE in the next few months. Early next year, the company will open its first JAC showroom in Dubai.
“If you look at Al Habtoor Motors as a business, we are number one in the world for Mitsubishi. This year we will do 38,000 vehicles, which is the highest growth of any Japanese manufacturer in the UAE,” said Mr Hamer.
“A company not going forward is going backwards, so we needed to bring in new brands, new opportunity and it is a different offering for us.”
And one day the Chinese manufacturers could become even bigger than the Japanese brands, he said. “We ignore them at our peril,” added Mr Hamer.