Marque downs: meet the brands struggling to win over drivers
Despite its long history in Australia, Citroen sales figures are dropping. The French brand boasts an 11-car line-up locally, yet sales are down 30 per cent and a full-year result below 2000 sales is likely. Communications manager Jaedene Hudson says plans are in place for a new marketing campaign to coincide with the launch of new models.
Despite cutting back its line-up — to just one offering — Dodge insists it is in Australia for the long haul. But with no new models slated for the next 18 months, consumers might be left wanting. Fiat Chrysler Group Australia chief executive Veronica Johns says Dodge has the support of its importer. "People love the Dodge brand," he says.
After a brief appearance in the Australian market during the 1990s, the Nissan-backed Infiniti launched a fresh campaign late last year. But so far it has struggled to gain traction, selling 170 vehicles so far this year. A spokesman described the marque as "an automotive brand on the rise" globally and is taking a long view of Australia.
The classic brand re-emerged on the market earlier this year under the ownership of one of China's largest car makers, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. The brand is yet to officially launch and is being spearheaded by the manual-only MG6 small car — its only variant. There are plans to introduce several new models over the next 18 months.
Proton has existed in the local market since the mid-1990s with a modest annual sales output. While its affordable range has appealed to niche audiences, the brand is being hamstrung by the competitive dollar and cheaper mainstream rivals — sales are down nearly 50 per cent this year. Proton Cars Australia sales manager Billy Falconer said the decline in sales stemmed from a lack of new models but plans were under way for Proton's local line-up.
The ambitious Chinese marque landed here in 2011 with its aggressively-priced J1 small car, which was initially banned in some states because it did not offer stability control. Chery sells three models in Australia but has struggled to gain traction. Sales are down 25 per cent so far this year, to 618 in the seven months to August. For its part, Chery says it expects to rejuvenate its presence with the impending release of its new J3 small car.
South Korean brand Ssangyong was relaunched in 2010, with an ambitious plan to sell 8000 cars in Australia each year. Despite constant price reductions, Ssangyong sales are down nearly 20 per cent this year — with an end-of-year result of barely 1500 likely. Now under the stewardship of a new distributor, brand spokesman Daniel Cotterill said many of Ssangyong's woes stemmed from an international level.