Omoda 5

Chinese car brand Omoda launches in UK with ambitious plan to outsell Polestar

Could be fighting against public opinion and government sanctions as well as carmaking rivals

Chinese car brand Omoda has announced ambitious sales targets for the UK, including plans to outsell slightly more established marques such as Polestar in short order.

In a press conference in London this week, the company announced plans to sell 10,000 cars in the UK in 2024, and 30,000 by the end of 2026.

It’s an extremely punchy goal, given the first examples of the brand’s inaugural model for the UK — the keenly priced Omoda 5 family SUV — is not expected to arrive on customers’ driveways until midway through the year.

Were Omoda to achieve the target figure for 2024, it would have sold almost as many cars in the year as Volvo spin-off brand Polestar registered in the whole of 2023 (12,543).

Not just electric cars

Victor Zhang, the UK country manager for Omoda’s parent firm Chery, said the brand could achieve success thanks to its wide range of models and powertrain options. Unlike other Chinese newcomers such as BYD and HiPhi, which have only brought electric vehicles to Europe, Omoda will offer electric and petrol versions of the 5 at launch, with a plug-in hybrid arriving next year.

When it goes on sale around May or June, the car is expected to cost around £24,000, with electric E5 models starting at around £33,500.

The 5 will be followed by the larger Omoda 9, which will also be available with a choice of propulsion systems, and the same is expected of the Omoda 3 and 7 models slated for 2025.

“It’s very important that we provide a full range of products, and that is one of the most important differences for us,” said Zhang. “We think the UK is a very open market — and not only for electric vehicles — so that is why we’re introducing a full range of cars to the UK. These things lay the foundation for our success, so we will be here and we will be sustainable here.”

More than 60 dealers have signed up

Zhang also pointed to the size of the dealer network as a key strength, with more than 60 dealers already signed up for franchises. However, company insiders have admitted to that the sheer size of the dealer network will put pressure on the company to achieve its sales targets in order to support such a large number of franchises.

Those dealers will also be providing a seven-year/ 100,000-mile warranty, and Omoda has signed a deal with a logistics company to provide overnight parts delivery anywhere on the UK mainland.

Zhang said the company would look to differentiate itself from other brands with its commitment to service, rather than simply focusing on product sales.

“We understand the aftersales service is one of the most important parts [of the business],” he said. “More than 60 dealers are already signed across the country, so this is a very solid foundation for our business, not only for sales, but also for aftersales. We have done a lot of UK-specific tuning of products, and we have a franchised dealership network for service. We want to bring good products from a price perspective and from a service perspective.”

China labelled ‘greatest state-based threat to our economic security

However, although Omoda describes the UK market as “open” to Chinese brands and is very complimentary of the trade links between the UK and China, the company may have to battle public opinion and British government sanctions.

Chery was founded by the Chinese state in 1997, and the company remains in state ownership. This week, the UK’s deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, indicated the government plans to reclassify China as a “threat” to Britain under new national security laws, while PM Rishi Sunak recently described China as “the greatest state-based threat to our economic security.”

Such links will be particularly concerning given Chery has confirmed it is looking into the possibility of opening a factory in the UK.

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