Thought I'd post this article from this weeks Mellors car news. Enjoy


CITROEN will follow Audi and Volkswagen’s
lead by offering next year’s new C4 small car with
turbo-diesel motivation.
Set to be Citroen Australia’s second diesel
model following the highly successful C5 HDi
sedan and wagon, C4 should land here in June
2005 following its Paris motor show debut this
September alongside a facelifted version of the
C5 itself.
While Audi has just launched the $47,800 A3
2.0 TDI as a performance leader of its new A3
range and Volkswagen is expected to release both
budget-conscious 1.9 and performance-biased 2.0
TDI versions of its forthcoming Golf V range,
Citroen will follow suite with a new 82kW 1.6-
litre HDi engine for C4.
Citroen is currently the passenger car leader in
diesel power Down Under, selling around 50 C5
HDis per month, and importer Ateco Automotive
will hope for some rub-off sales with C4 HDi.
However, the diesel push by Ateco, which also
distributes Alfa Romeo and Kia vehicles here,
won’t stop there.
Signalling a major shift in direction for the Alfa
brand in Australia, where Ateco has deliberately
targeted luxury German brands as its major rival,
the first diesel-powered Alfa Romeo will be the
new 157 medium sedan, which should debut here
in mid-2006.
Some 76 per cent of total Alfa Romeo production
is now diesel, none of which is sold in Australia
and all of which is manual. But a complete range of
automatics by 2006 should change that.
“The UK market is certainly very strong on
diesel but they’re attacking more the Citroen and
Peugeot-type market rather than Audi, BMW and
Mercedes,” said Ateco governing director Neville
Crichton. “We’re quite a bit different here. I think
Alfa’s seen certainly as a luxury brand up there
with the Germans.
“In Europe, particularly Italy, Alfa is sold more
as a fleet car. They’re selling it down – they’re
selling the bottom end of the car, not the top end.
We made a decision here to bring in the top end
product, so it’s certainly a different market they’re
attacking in Italy.
“If you look at our sales versus BMW manual
for manual – because we virtually don’t have an
automatic – we outsell every one of the luxury
brands if you compare manual to manual. We are
playing a little bit with our arms tied behind our
back until we get a complete range of automatics
and that won’t really be until 2006. It was meant to
be 2005 but it will be 2006.”
Asked if Ateco had a diesel future, Mr Crichton
couldn’t hide his enthusiasm. “Absolutely.
Absolutely. In fact, we’ve got some on the
water now just to evaluate. Their performance is
fantastic. The only problem in Australia is that
you’re paying a bit more for diesel, but the cars
are very good and even the high performance cars
are economical.
“Without doubt it will change. We see with
Citroen diesel going up all the time,” he said.
In the meantime Ateco will keep a watching
brief on Kia Sorento sales, which have been limited
by supply to around 120-130 per month. A larger
allocation of around 200 a month is imminent,
but a diesel-powered Sorento would still need to
come from that allocation. Given Ateco says it
could easily sell 250 petrol Sorentos per month,
a diesel would only cannibalise the mainstream
petrol variant.
But if Sorento supply exceeds 200 per month,
Sorento diesel may yet see Australian shores.
Ateco eyes expansion,
but not China
THE Australian importer of Alfa
Romeo, Citroen and Kia vehicles, Ateco
Automotive, has admitted it hopes to
add at least another brand to its
portfolio, but denies it will be a
Chinese marque or even that it’s
destined for Australia.
Asked if he had sought a Chinese
franchise to distribute Down Under,
Ateco governing director Neville
Crichton said: “No we’re not looking at
anything from China. We are talking to
manufacturers all the time I can assure
you, but at this point we are not talking
to anyone from China.
“But we certainly are talking to other
manufacturers and we are definitely on
the expansion trail – not necessarily in
“Ateco currently imports Citroen,
Kia, Alfa Romeo and Fiat commercial
vehicles in Australia, and Alfa Romeo
and Fiat vehicles in New Zealand,
where it’s believed Ateco is also
chasing the rights to distribute both
Citroen and Kia – giving it a strategic
control of all four brands in both