South African McCarthy Motor Holdings started selling Meiya's pick-up and SUV in SA.
and second:Cape Town - "Acceptable quality" and "value" were the catchphrases bandied about at the launch of the latest Chinese imports with prices on the Meiya range, which includes single- and double-cab bakkies and SUVs, starting at R89 900.
The Meiya bakkies and wagon are offered in three derivatives - two engine choices and two specification levels.
The base 2.2 units have colour-coded exterior trim, power steering and front and rear fog lamps. Deluxe models add airconditioning, electric windows, remote central locking, radio with front-loading CD player and power windows and exterior mirrors.
For South Africa, the wagon loses the rear-mounted spare wheel that is now placed beneath the body. This has resulted in the third row of seats being sacrificed, but given the size of the wagon, that would be a squeeze anyway.
Power steering, air-conditioning, central locking, colour-coded trim, front and rear fog lights and adjustable steering column are standard on the base model, while the Deluxe adds central air conditioning, front loading CD player, leather interior trim and roof racks.
The wagon and Deluxe double cabs come with a driver airbag.
On the road, the four-cylinder 2.2-litre petrol unit, which produces 76 kW at 4 600 r/min and 190 Nm of torque at 2 400 r/min and whose origins can be traced to Toyota, and the Isuzu-sourced 2.8-litre turbodiesel that develops 68 kW and 202 Nm at 3 600 and 2 300 r/min respectively, are able performers.
All models ride on an independent front suspension and rigid axle plus leaf springs combination that ensure a jiggly but not uncomfortable ride on the mix of tar and dirt roads that made up our launch route.
The vehicles are not the most refined specimens on our roads, but they certainly appear robust. Stopping duty on all models is the responsibility of front discs and rear drums.
The cabin may not be the most comfortable, but the hard plastics and cloth seat covers appear durable and should withstand the demands of the hard, workhorse-type activities these vehicles are likely to be subjected to. Payloads on the bakkies range from 745 kg to 830 kg.
Power steering, though light, was rather unpredictable on some models, and the gearshift to the five-speed transmission was spongy with way too much travel.
Apart from the burning smell that crept into the cabin of the deluxe double cab my driving partner and I were sharing and preceded the failure of all electrical functions, including indicator signals and hooter, the drive was rather "ordinary". Excessive wind noise was a feature on all the models driven.
All vehicles are sold with a one-year, unlimited mileage warranty and are fitted with the Datadot vehicle identification system.
Prices include automatic membership to Club McCarthy, which includes benefits such as free roadside assistance and emergency medical response, service discounts and membership to a holiday accommodation club.
Base 2.2 - R89 900
Deluxe 2.2 - R106 900
Deluxe 2.8 turbodiesel - R129 900
Base 2.2 - R114 900
Deluxe 2.2 - R126 900
Deluxe 2.8 turbodiesel - R144 900
Base 2.2 - R139 900
Deluxe 2.2 - R149 900
More to come
South Africa was identified as a key export opportunity for Chinese manufacturers Meiya and Foton and McCarthy has also managed to secure the rights to market these in other right-hand drive markets in Africa.
However, McCarthy's Jolyon Nash, McCarthy executive director in charge of distribution and imports has assured that this is only planned for a later date once the local business model is entrenched.
A range of passenger cars is likely to make an appearance shortly, though McCarthy executives have admitted that they have not been able to source anything from the Chinese market that would be able to meet its minimum quality requirements yet.
In South Africa though, these new entrants will receive full parts and servicing back up from a total of 41 outlets throughout the country.
These McCarthy Value Centres include 12 full service dealerships (sales, servicing and parts) in major areas, and 29 service dealerships also mandated with the servicing of out-of-warranty vehicles.
70 trained technicians are placed at the dealerships. The number of dealerships is expected to expand to 20 by next year and 40 by 2009.
McCarthy Motor Holdings' Meiya range of diesel and petrol pick-ups is now available at McCarthy Value Centre outlets across the country.
The Meiya line-up includes two engine derivatives, a 2.2-litre petrol engine and 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine.
The most affordable products in the range are the Meiya 2.2-litre Single Cab bakkie that retails at R89 900, as well as the Meiya 2.2-litre Double Cab selling for R114 900.
McCarthy says it is committed to provide customers with vehicles that are optimised for South African operating conditions and quality standards, but at a reasonable price.
The 13 McCarthy Value Centres now house a new vehicle sales section, servicing and parts (McCarthy ValueServe) and used vehicles (Call-a-Car Direct).
In addition, there are also already 29 McCarthy-controlled and fully-owned ValueServe service and parts centres open nationwide, which provides a professional and complete after sales service at affordable prices to Meiya customers.
According to McCarthy it is therefore able to offer full after sales in terms of service and parts, all at attractive rates thereby reducing cost of ownership.
Meiya vehicles are sold with a 1 Year/ unlimited kilometre warranty. Service is at 15 000 km intervals for the vehicles with petrol engines and every 10 000 km for the diesel variants.
# Meiya Single-Cab Pickup: R89 900
# Meiya Single-Cab Pickup Deluxe: R106 900
# Meiya Single-Cab Pickup Diesel Deluxe: R129 900
# Meiya Double-Cab Pickup: R114 900
# Meiya Double-Cab Pickup Deluxe: R126 900
# Meiya Double-Cab Pickup Diesel Deluxe: R149 900