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Great Wall puts brakes on VX10

On hold: The Great Wall VX10 was scheduled for a local release mid-2013 but now its been put on hold over fears it could cost too much.

Light-car on hold as Australian dollar slows Great Wall's local expansion plans

11 Jul 2013

GREAT Wall's local expansion plans have been dealt a blow, with importer Ateco putting the launch of the crucial VX10 light car on hold indefinitely after struggling to make a viable business case.

In a further blow, the launch of another key plank in the car-maker’s range expansion, the H6 mid-sized SUV, has been pushed back several months to early 2014.

The light-sized VX10 was to be Great Wall's entry-level model in Australia, and would have potentially opened the brand up to a whole new market beyond the V-Series ute and X-Series SUV.

Until recently, the VX was on the cards to arrive by September this year priced around $13,000 – or equivalent to smaller offerings such as the Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Micra.

But, says Ateco Automotive PR consultant for Asian brands Daniel Cotterill, the recent devaluation of the Australian dollar has changed the game plan.

“I think we have had issues there given the recent devaluation of the Australian dollar,” he said.

61 center imageFrom top: Great Wall H6, VX30 and VX200.

“Given that sector of the market is so competitive, and it is competitive on many fronts but especially on price, I think there might just be a little bit of a pause there until we see what happens with the Australian dollar.”

Plans to launch the VX10 (known as Voleex and C10 in other markets) in Australia kicked off in 2010, when local importer Ateco first announced an expansion of its passenger car range.

Mr Cotterill said he was disappointed the vehicle is on hold, given the amount of work that had gone into preparing the car for an Australian berth.

“There is a lot of effort that has gone into that car from Great Wall and from us in terms of assisting them with feedback on development and so on, and a great deal of patience from our dealers who have stuck with us through thick and thin.

“It's been quite a successful business for our Great Wall dealers but, as always, we would like it to be better and even more successful and we have been trying to get this small car to market for some time,” he said.

“It's just one of those things, that nine of the 10 ducks line up, then the tenth duck goes and devalues the currency, so there is an element of frustration there.” Mr Cotterill said that while the VX10 was on indefinite hold, it is not necessarily dead in the water, “depending on where the Australian dollar is.” Ateco will continue with the roll out of Great Wall's other passenger vehicles, starting with the H6 SUV that was set to arrive later this year but is now scheduled for a local launch in the first quarter of 2014.

The H6 will eventually replace Great Wall's current X-Series SUV range that went on sale in October 2009, but Mr Cotterill said the X200 and X240 could continue to sell alongside the H6 for a while, depending on demand.

Great Wall's Corolla-sized VX30 small hatch is the next cab off the rank and is likely to appear in local showrooms shortly after the middle of next year.

Mr Cotterill said that the VX30 could be priced from under $20,000 when it arrives, adding “we really have to remain price competitive to compete.”

An update to the V-Series utility range is also scheduled for the first quarter of next year, which will see the Chinese-built workhorse get a slight cosmetic makeover and a mechanical upgrade.

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