Car brands we could soon see on our roads

A grey Polestar sedan

Toby Hagon

Posted August 09, 2021

Australia has one of the most diverse and competitive car markets in the world - and it’s about to get a whole lot more crowded.

Australia has one of the most diverse and competitive car markets in the world. With a strong showing of brands from Asia, America and Europe, we've got most bases covered. And even though we’ve lost various brands over the past decade or two – Holden, Daihatsu, Infiniti, Daewoo, Saab and Opel, to name a few – there are plenty more planned or expected to head Down Under over the next few years.

Here are some of the starters we could see on our roads soon:


Also known for adding performance spice to Volvos, Polestar now makes cars under its own brand. With Swedish influence and Chinese manufacturing, the electrified brand – every vehicle it sells in Australia will be an EV – has big plans to tackle the might of Tesla. Clean designs, Google operating tech and electric propulsion are part of the sales pitch. There is not a lot of imagination in the names: the first car here will be the Polestar 2 later in 2021, followed by the Polestar 3 in a year.


Those with a long memory may remember Seat, the Volkswagen-owned Spanish brand that had a short-lived crack at the Australian market in the 1990s. Cupra was born from the performance and motorsport division of Seat, which still thrives in parts of Europe. It’s Cupra that will come to Australia in mid-2022 to bridge the gap between mainstream and prestige brands, with some sports-focused models packed with equipment. Dealerships will be standalone, but behind the scenes, the grunt work is being done by Volkswagen.


It's one of China's biggest car brands, and BYD – denoting Build Your Dreams – has big plans for Australia. Working with a local investment partner, the company plans an EV onslaught that promises a circa-$35K hatchback designed to make electric cars popular. There are a range of models in the works, and BYD plans to do things differently with distribution and servicing, doing without big dealerships in return for sharper pricing.


Fans of the British TV show Top Gear may recognise the Romanian brand, although few in Australia would have heard of it. But the new importer of Renault in Australia, Ateco (which also looks after LDV and Ram trucks), says it will soon start selling the budget-priced cars in Australia. Negotiations are still underway, but the company has a track record of establishing new brands (Ateco set the foundations for Kia locally). That means cars such as the Duster and Sandero may soon find a place in Australia.

The Dacier Duster
The Rivian R1T


Conceived in a British pub while lamenting the demise of the original Land Rover Defender, the Ineos Grenadier has rough roads and desert tracks in its DNA. It’s been created by chemicals giant Ineos, which is turning its hand to cars with the Grenadier (which was the name of that pub). Looking a lot like a previous Defender, the Grenadier has an emphasis on extreme off-road ability without the basic interior, instead turning to some tech and luxury inside. BMW engines provide the propulsion, and the niche brand even has hydrogen fuel cell technology on its long term wish list.


The American luxury brand came within weeks of launching in Australia in 2008, but plans were abruptly put on ice as parent company General Motors dealt with bigger issues, such as going bankrupt. The brand has flirted with the idea of an Aussie launch since, but momentum is growing. It helps having some key Australians in senior positions at GM, as does the brand’s plan to be wholly electric by 2030. Best guesses are that Cadillac could be officially in Australia to take on Mercedes-Benz and Audi as soon as 2025.


Utes are big business in Australia, and it's the premium end of town where the action has been hot. While the born-again Hummer – officially GMC Hummer – has to settle itself into life as an all-electric brand in America first, there’s a good chance Australia will be on the hit list longer term. And what a ute it would be, with a “Watts to Freedom” mode for supercar acceleration from up to three electric motors and CrabWalk to allow the car to go sideways.


With something of a cult following, Californian-based Rivian also has plenty of money behind it and some big investors, including Ford and online retailing giant Amazon. The Rivian R1T ute goes on sale in America by the end of the year, and local importers are already circling, so expect some sales of the EV off-roader locally in 2022 or 2023 with or without an official blessing from the brand.


Another brand trying to take on Tesla, American EV maker Fisker is planning a ute and small EV as well as the already-announced Ocean SUV. Fisker is already taking deposits from Australians suggesting cars could start arriving as soon as 2023.