When China’s Chery announced last December that they would be will be the first ever Chinese brand to enter the venerable Dakar Rally, a lot of people said: “Yeah, sure. Chinese cars, in the Dakar? Don’t they fall apart when they leave the lot?”
Chery’s team didn’t win, but they survived. Drivers Lu Ningjun and Jiang Yaohuan of the Chery Rely Fleet finished the rally in 28th and 29th place. Other Chinese drivers also made it past the finish line of the gruelling race: Team Great Wall ranked 33rd, Team Cool Car Time came in 44th. Not bad for a race where 40 percent drop out. The race itself was won by Spaniard Carlos Sainz. Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar came in second, both in a (yeah, sure) Volkswagen Touareg.
Why are we rehashing Dakar Rally results from January? Chery will launch the Dakar-surviving X5 SUV under the Rely sub-brand on March 28, nearly three months after the vehicle’s 2010 Dakar trial, Gasgoo reports. The X5 2.0 liter direct injected version is expected to go for $23,400. The puny engine, used in an SUV for the first time, is good for 235Nm of torque and 146kW of power. More like a shopping cart, and nothing to win a rally with. Chery/Rely also promised a turbo diesel for those who want more oomph. And while on the way to Wal-Mart (yeah, they have those in Beijing) you can dream of winning the Dakar.
Any similarities with the BMW X5 are purely coincidental. BMW came in 3rd at the race. In a X3.
Speaking of similarities, B&B member MCS correctly points out that the Rely brand has won notoriety for a less manly product in the U.S.A. 1978 Procter and Gamble introduced superabsorbent Rely tampons, which killed 40 women due to toxic shock syndrome. Rely was pulled off the shelves in 1980. Chery may want to re-think its branding strategy before selling the Rely X5 to soccer moms in the U.S.A.