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Haval hesitates on diesel roll-out

Petrol for now: Haval’s big seven-seat H9 all-terrain wagon was to have received a diesel engine alternative to the 2.0-litre petrol powertrain within a few months of launch, but that is on hold.

Diesel engine on hold at Haval in wake of Volkswagen cheat scandal

8 Oct 2015

AUSTRALIA’S newest car company, Haval Motors Australia (HMA), has called time out on its planned diesel engine roll-out in this market while it weighs the fallout from the Volkswagen diesel cheat software scandal.

While there is no suggestion that Haval’s own in-house-developed turbo diesel engine – a 140kW/410Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder – has any such illegal shortcuts, Haval’s parent company, Great Wall Motors, is doing its own due diligence to make sure it is fully set to launch the powertrain in western markets.

The company is said to be concerned that a potential public loss of confidence in diesel in the wake of the VW upheaval might significantly change market dynamics.

For now, the HMA is launching its three-model SUV range with a petrol-only powertrain line-up, with 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre turbo engines available variously in the compact H2, mid-sized H8 and large all-terrain H9 wagons that were officially launched into showrooms this week.

The big seven-seat H9 – a Toyota Prado competitor – and Jeep-Cherokee-sized H8 were both expected to have received the alternative diesel engine before the end of this year, but the company says it now cannot confirm when the diesel will arrive. The best guess is some time in 2016.

Another factor with a bearing on the diesel roll-out is the looming deadline for Euro 6 emissions compliance in both Australia and Europe.

With Euro 6 standards set to be applied to all light-vehicle engines in Australia by the middle of 2018 – and sooner in Europe where Haval is also expected to launch soon – the company appears to be considering whether to simply wait until it has its Euro 6 engine ready for mass production rather than switch powertrains mid-stream.

Any delay means the current Euro 5-compliant diesel engine will at most have only a couple of years in the market before the switch.

HMA public relations manager Andrew Ellis said he was unable to shed any light on the diesel roll-out at this stage.

He said it was his understanding that the diesel engine was still planned for Australia, but that Haval had made the responsible decision to review its diesel strategy in the wake of the current diesel engine scrutiny around the world.

The Haval vehicle with the greatest need for diesel is the flagship H9, which the company says was benchmarked against the Toyota Prado.

Without diesel, Haval is fighting with one hand tied behind its back in a market segment dominated by diesel sales in Australia.

The vehicle has been launched with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine producing 160kW of power and 324Nm of torque, although GoAuto was told in China earlier this year that a 180kW version of that petrol engine is in the pipeline for 2016 introduction, along with an upgrade from six-speed automatic transmission to an eight speeder.

Presuming it gets the 2.0-litre diesel engine at some point, the diesel H9’s 140kW of power and 410Nm of torque would place it in a similar performance league as Toyota’s new 2.8-litre engine in Prado which develops 130kW and 450Nm.

When Great Wall launched the new diesel engine – dubbed GW4D20 – in 2014, it was trumpeted as the first Chinese-developed high-performance diesel and dubbed the “Green and Quiet 2.0T diesel engine”.

The engine was said to be a performance match for 3.0-litre diesels, while setting new standards for noise and fuel consumption.

Reports out of China last year suggested the engine had already received market certification for Australia, as well as Europe, under Euro 5 emissions standards that become compulsory on all light vehicles sold in Australia late next year.

This engine was launched in China in the Great Wall Wingle 5 ute and Haval H5 SUV. In Australia, the Wingle 5 has been sold as the Great Wall V-Series, with the older 105kW/310Nm diesel.

The new engine might have been slated to replace that engine in Great Wall vehicles sold here, but because of a falling out between the independent distributor, Ateco Automotive, and Great Wall, it has not yet materialised.

Great Wall imports ceased last year, and just 129 Great Wall-badged vehicles have been sold so far in 2015.

If the dispute can be settled any time soon, a revised Great Wall ute range could be expected to include the newer powertrain under a new factory-guided import arrangement established by Great Wall.

Apart from the new diesel, a powerful 248kW/485Nm turbo-petrol V6 is also in the pipeline for Haval in Australia, along with a possible hybrid powertrain.

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