GUANGZHOU, China -- Chery Automobile Co. plans to divide its growing product line into four sub-brands with different badges, says the company's spokesman Jin Yibo.
Chery's product lineup includes nine passenger vehicles, one commercial vehicle and one minivan. To date, all its vehicles are sold under the "Chery" brand and carry the same badge. In April this year, Chery will start implementing a multi-brand strategy, Jin says.
According to Jin, Chery will put its products into three categories: passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and mini vehicles. The passenger vehicles will be further divided into the ordinary and premium types.
Thus, Chery will run four sub-brands in the future, for premium passenger vehicles, ordinary passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and mini vehicles, respectively. The premium brand is mainly for big-size sedans while the commercial vehicle brand is for vans and small buses with more than 7 seats, and the mini vehicle brand is mainly for minivans, Jin adds.
He says Chery's ordinary passenger vehicles will continue to use "Chery" as its brand name; its commercial vehicles will carry a new brand, "Karry." Its premium cars and mini vehicles will have new brand names, which will be unveiled later. "We need multiple brands to tap different market segments since the number of our models has increased quickly," Jin says.
Chery plans to launch 15 new and redesigned models in 2009. Jin adds the each of the four sub-brands will have "several" new cars to debut. But he declines to give further details. "We will debut 19 new cars in Shanghai auto show in April, many of which will be launched into sales soon," says Jin.
Jin also says Chery sold 356,000 units of vehicles in 2008, of which about 135,000 units were exported. He adds the company targets to sell 260,000 cars in China and export 150,000 units this year.
The global economic crisis posed big challenges to Chery's exports, Jin admits without explaining further.