Chinese car brand Geely’s drive to strengthen its presence in South Africa through an expanded dealer network and new product is starting to pay off, says John Jessup, CEO of Geely South Africa.

The company now boasts 41 dealers, up from 12 just over a year ago, and is enjoying growing sales of its recently launched Geely LC mini car that sells for under R90 000.

Geely is the largest independent car manufacturer in China and earlier last year Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, parent company of Geely Motor Holdings, acquired Volvo Cars from Ford Motor Company for $1.8-billion.

Geely South Africa is co-owned by the Johannesburg-based Hallmark and Magic Groups and, since taking over the role of importer and distributor of the brand early in 2010, has taken significant steps to improve the brand’s image, concentrating on a stronger dealer body and a higher level of sales and after-sales service.

“Initially, while we waited for the arrival of the new LC Geely product we were able to focus on strengthening the dealer network and raising the level of customer satisfaction in both the sales and after sales areas,” said Jessup, a 30-year industry veteran. “We increased the dealer network from 12 to 25 within the first six months, including the replacement of three of the original dealers, and after a year we had 33 dealers. Today, we have 41 dealers and are in negotiation with several candidates as we continue our drive to offer our customers and potential customers a wider representation around the country. We are also in the process of appointing a recommended panel repair network around the country. “We have also enjoyed excellent coverage of the new car in the media following the launch and are encouraged by the enthusiastic comments made in the road test reports that have been published so far.

Jessup is impressed with what he and his executives have seen of the Geely product on recent visits to China. “They are stylish, well-made and excellent value for money, with loads of features that you would not expect of vehicles in the price range. There is a strong emphasis on safety, with a 4-star C-NCAP the minimum target with all models. Two current models, including the LC, enjoy a 5-star rating

“We are looking closely at the extensive range of Geely cars, SUVs and light commercials and we will enter at least one further major new market segment each year for the next three years.” “We are a small but growing team of experienced professionals who are serious about making a success of the Geely brand in South Africa,” said Jessup. “We believe that our product represents a whole new take on the value proposition, particularly in the entry-level market, and we are committed to backing the brand with the highest levels of sales and after-sales service irrespective of our vehicle price positioning. All Geely cars also come standard with a 36-month or 100 000 km warranty with AA Roadside Assistance. Optional service packages of 24 months/60 000 km and 36 months/90 000 km are available.

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