Decades
after giving up on the sun-drenched continent with its thinly spread population
centres that make vehicle distribution a nightmare, the European brands Skoda
and Fiat could be about to return to Australia, says a report on the Australian
website drive.com.

Drive believes that Astre Automotive, which imports the Audi and Hyundai brands,
has already begun preparing Skoda vehicles to comply with Australian Design
Regulations, ready for a return in 2003, 20 years after the Czech maker departed.

Various models including the Octavia and Fabia are believed to be already
in the country for evaluation, the website added.

Astre used to import Chrysler and Jeep products until Australian distribution
was taken over by the manufacturer last year. It has long been thought to be
after another franchise to replace the U.S. brands.

“We have been looking at various options and talking to someone for about
nine months now,” Astre boss C. K. Liew told Drive. “If everything
goes well, we will make an announcement in six months.”

The website said it understood that Astre is concerned that the local VW group
will step in to take the Skoda franchise for Australia, although VW Australia’s
managing director, Peter Nochar, told it he knew little about the potential
deal.

Italian maker Fiat is also tipped to make a return to Australia, drive.com
said.

The Australian Alfa Romeo importer Ateco is believed to be keen to exercise
its right to the Fiat brand and is said to have already started the design rule
approval process on various models, the website added.


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