The Ateco Group, Australia and New Zealand's largest locally based independent car importer, has said it plans to build a new core business around Chinese imports as well as beginning business with North American brands for the first time.

The company is also intending to develop existing links with makes in Europe. From the start of May this year the company will begin handling Fiat Chrysler vehicles in New Zealand with its latest company, Fiat Chrysler New Zealand, a joint venture with Australian businessman Clyde Campbell.

The company said it wanted to strengthen its position in the market and boost profitability.

Ateco has been dealing in Chinese brands for a decade and was the first the company to bring them to Australia. It currently imports Great Wall, Chery and Foton models from China with Japanese ro-ro provider Armacup. Great Wall and Foton are loaded at Tianjin, while Chery vehicles are loaded at Shanghai.

“A decade ago, when we started our Chinese programme, it would have seemed almost laughable to some people that it would become the core of our business,” said Ateco’s executive chairman, Neville Crichton, “but our foresight means that Ateco is not only the first company to bring Chinese brands to Australia, we are also still the only company to have successfully marketed them right across Australia and New Zealand, and there is no doubt now that the Chinese market is the way of the future.”

The company also imports Ssangyong from Pyuntaek port in South Korea, again working with Armacup.

Existing brands in Europe include Maserati, loaded at Zeebrugge in Belgium and shipped with WWL, and Lotus from the UK, loaded at Tilbury and shipped in containers.

Last year it landed 14,000 vehicles in Australia. All vehicles are discharged in Brisbane, Port Kembla (near Sydney), Melbourne and Freemantle. Ceva Logistics handles most of the vehicle transport to dealerships from there.

Australian processing provider, PrixCar, handles storage and vehicle preparation for Great Wall, Chery, Ssangyong and Foton. Maserati and Foton vehicles are delivered ex-wharf directly to the dealers.
“The car industry has probably never been in such a significant period of change as it is now,” said Crichton. “With annual sales now in excess of 20m cars the Chinese market simply dominates world car industry planning.”

In terms of Fiat Chrysler shipments to New Zealand in May, Ateco’s joint venture with Clyde Campbell will be handling Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands.