Great Wall confirms car roll-out

words - Bruce Newton
Two hatches, a sedan and a soft-roader to push ambitious Chinese brand to 20,000 sales per annum
The emerging Chinese brand Great Wall Motor will launch three passenger cars and a soft-roader in Australia before the end of 2014.

It’s an important step for GWM, which has so far built its presence on ladder frame light commercials and SUVs, compiling 30,000 total sales since launching here in mid-2009.

The first of GWM’s passenger cars will be the VX10 mini-car in the third quarter of 2013, which should have a starting price around $12,990-$13,990. Equipped with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, it will be fully equipped with features including six airbags, reversing camera and alloy wheels.

Known as the Voleex C10 in China, the Australian-version of the car will eschew its dramatic U-shaped grille for a more conservative horizontal design from its sister car the Voleex C20R

It will be followed by the Haval H6 SUV (pictured) before the end of the year, which will provide the brand with access to the booming soft-roader market at a kick-off price not far above $20,000 for a petrol-engined 4x2 manual.

The H6, which is topping sales in its segment in China, will also be available here with a diesel engine, 4x4 and automatic transmission choices.

An update of the V-series ute range will also launch in 213.

In 2014, the VX30 small hatch and the slightly larger VX50 sedan will go on-sale in Australia, with the latter more likely to be seen here first in the second quarter of 2014. 

The hatch, which is yet to be launched in China, is due early in the second half and should be pitched around the $17,990-$18,990 mark, with the sedan slightly more expensive but still starting under $20,000.

The sedan-version of the VX30 is already on-sale in China as a sedan and comes standard there with a 77kw/138Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and the choice of five-speed manual or CVT.

The VX50 is powered by a turbocharged 98kW/188Nm 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual and an as yet unspecified auto.

GWM’s Australian general manager Peter McGeown predicted the influx of new models would drive the sales total from 2012’s 11,006 to 15,000 in 2013 and then on to 20,000 in 2014.

Mr McGeown said the minimum expectation for all GWM passenger cars would be a four star ANCAP result.

“We are aiming as high as possible. I couldn’t put my hand on heart and say I know exactly what it is going to be,” Mr McGeown said. “But the market will only accept a certain level now and that is one of the things we are extremely conscious of.”

The VX10, which was expected here as far back as two years ago but delayed as the Australian distributor struggled for right-hand drive supply, should become GWM’s top selling model, the company anticipating several thousand sales via its 87-strong dealer network in its first 12 months on the market.

GWM’s Australian success has been in direct contrast to fellow Chinese brand Chery, which has been on-sale since early 2011 but managed only 3000 sales.

Also distributed by Ateco Automotive, its three models have suffered poor ANCAP results and safety-related recalls and, like GWM, was involved in an asbestos-related recall.

Chery also doesn’t sell in Victoria, because its range is not as yet fitted with ESC. That should change before the end of 2013, with the J11 SUV and J3 small car scheduled to be fitted with ESC and go on-sale in Victoria. The J1 mini, Australia’s cheapest car at $10,990, will not get ESC.

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Published : Tuesday, 12 March 2013
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