How Chery Auto’s Past is Helping Secure Omoda and Jaecoo’s Future

Mikko David

Nothing quite fires up anti-China car sentiment than the Chery QQ of 2007. Not-so-pleasant memories of this tiny hatch from the late 2000s stir up emotions without fail and constantly bring to light what was wrong with the Chinese automotive industry some 16 years ago.

For many, it’s difficult to believe how, in less than two decades, Chinese cars that had subpar performance, questionable build quality, and near non-existent after-sales and parts availability could transform into global contenders that exude modern design, class-leading technology, and unparalleled value.

But such is the case with Chery Automobile Co., Ltd. and its growing list of global brands.

In a recent trip to its headquarters in Wuhu, China, Chery pulled all the stops to present itself as a fast-growing international brand powerhouse. With its aggressive export expansion, Chery is also bringing along brands such as Jetour, Omoda, Jaecoo, and Exeed in an impressive global rollout.

Each brand focuses on a target demographic with peculiar intricacies and interests. Along with product introductions and brand speeches, Chery’s top brass took turns extolling the massive efforts of each brand in over 80 countries around the world while serving 12 million customers.

Over 600 Chery Group vehicle owners, media, and influencers were in the city to be wined and dined. And Chery Auto wanted to make the most out of their presence.

Technology Day

Showcasing the design, engineering, and technologies it now utilizes in the various brands under its wing, Chery’s Technology Day gave attendees a hands-on look at its latest models and concept cars. It also showcased the power and drivetrains already present in current models. People actually got to see what Chery and its brands are working on.

In one section of the hall, there was a wall that displayed all the patents Chery had applied for in the past few years. Alongside this was another display of the global automotive suppliers Chery has partnered with to show that its brands are of world-class quality. Chery also showed how its cars are complying with vehicle safety standards and how it is working to ensure it is globally competitive, with its international research and development centers taking the lead in vehicle design.

Seeing these not only reinforces the Chery Group’s global aspirations but also shows that it has outgrown the days of China brand cloning with a clear effort

to innovate, set the trend, and lead in technological advancement.

Omoda Bike Ride

As a global brand, Corporate Social Responsibility has now become an integral part of the Chery Group’s marketing efforts.

Through its emerging Omoda brand, Chery prepared 1,500 identical bicycles for the User Summit’s international audience to ride. The green messaging isn’t so subtle as Chery

wants Omoda to be seen as “More Than a Car.”

We can’t help but notice the global perspective Chery is taking in its brand-building efforts. Through CSR and lifestyle activities, Chery is building Omoda up as an active and dynamic brand for the younger set. With a donation of US$6,000,000 to UNICEF over two years, Chery is positioning itself and its brands as key partners in the education of future generations. A noble and global cause.

By engaging with its customers this way, Chery is ensuring that the Omoda brand becomes a relevant part of their lives in the years to come.

Jaecoo 7 Test Drive

Chery also took advantage of the visit of the delegates to China by letting them test drive the Jaecoo 7 crossover through an off-road track. Designed to highlight the durability and build quality of the soon-to-belaunched crossover, the drive was also an opportunity for us participants to really feel what the car is capable of.

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Suffice it to say, the Jaecoo 7 felt ready to tackle rough terrain in as much as it could leisurely stroll in the city.

Customer Survey

Perhaps one of the most interesting ways Chery actually engaged with its invited customer base during this whole user summit was when it invited them to a private viewing of upcoming models in the Chery, Omoda, and Jaecoo lineup.

Similar to when engineers, designers, company executives, and employees first view a working product or model, Chery, Omoda, and Jaecoo customers were allowed to see the Jaecoo 5 and the Omoda 7 and give feedback to their product management teams. Both models have yet to see production.

We were asked what we thought of the exterior and interior designs of both models, what features we liked most, and most importantly, what we thought should be improved in the product. We were also asked to rank the intended body colors for the cars.

Finally, we were also shown concept drawings of upcoming products and asked to rank which design we preferred.

This is probably the first time we were invited to give feedback on a car brand’s work prior to the launch of its products. It is a new take on the usual focus group discussion surveys. Oddly enough, it is coming from a Chinese company that is not normally known for its democratic practices.

Do consumers actually have a voice? According to Chery, they do. With most Western car brands, this is the norm. Customer surveys, feedback loops, and even face-to-face interaction with top executives are already a given practice. But to see these from a Chinese brand today, in 2023, is something else.

How times have changed.