New models - Great Wall - SA220
Chinese invasion begins – at $19,990
Great Wall becomes first Chinese brand into Australia with a pair of utes
24 Jun 2009
GREAT Wall Motors today became the first Chinese car-maker to nail up its shingle in Australia, staking a claim on the light-commercial vehicle market with a pair of twin-cab utes and a sub-$20,000 on-road entry price.
With leather trim, alloy wheels, electric windows and air-conditioning all included as standard equipment, the five-seat, four-cylinder petrol Great Wall SA220 and V240 – known in China as the Sailor and Wingle respectively – will go on sale this week through a new 45-dealer network in Australia, as well as six dealerships in New Zealand.
The cheaper of the two utes, the 4x2 2.2-litre five-speed manual SA220, will debut at $19,990 on-road – a price that importer Ateco Automotive says enables buyers to get into a new vehicle for a second-hand price.
Until now, the cheapest dual-cab ute on the Australian market has been the Indian-built turbo-diesel Mahindra Pik-Up, with a retail price of $23,990, plus on-road costs.
The $19,990 entry price is higher than the “well-below $20,000” Ateco had anticipated, but it now include on-roads and the healthy list of standard features has also grown.
The SA220 is only available in a single specification at launch, with no automatic or diesel option. Nor does it have airbags, ABS brakes or high-mounted stop light, which will not endear it to safety-conscious buyers.
Left: The Great Wall SA220. At bottom: The Great Wall V240.
All of these safety features are, however, fitted standard on the bigger, 2.4-litre V240, which is available in both 4x2 and 4x4 guise, but again, without automatic transmission or diesel alternatives at launch.
An advanced 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine is already available in China, and GoAuto understands it is in the pipeline for future launch in Australia.
For now, Ateco hopes to sell about 300 of the petrol-powered utes a month. It has flagged an expansion of the range in due course, but sources indicate that no “stripper model”, minus leather and other goodies, will be in the offing.
Great Wall’s Aussie range will be expanded later this year with the arrival of two more vehicles with broader appeal – a 1.5-litre hatchback, known in China as the Florid, and the Toyota 4-Runner-based Hover SUV. Like the utes, both will be renamed for Australia.
The arrival of the Great Wall vehicles in Australia caps three years of negotiation by Ateco, which also plans to import a second Chinese brand, Chery, once Australian Design Rule compliance can be completed.
Ateco managing director Ric Hull said the company had been impressed with Great Wall “from day one”, targeting the company because of its discipline, organisation and leadership strengths.
He said Great Wall had been consistently at the top of the Chinese car market with its ute and SUV sales, and had set a production benchmark in China where world-class production facilities were becoming commonplace.
“What sets Great Wall apart is the corporate culture that permeates through the organisation,” he said today after the first Great Wall dealer launch meeting in Sydney.
“The company motto is ‘improving little by little every day’, and from what we have seen, the staff really do live and breathe this philosophy.”
Founded in 1976, Great Wall is based at Baoding, 140km south of Beijing. Employing a staff of 22,000, it has a production capacity of 400,000 vehicles per annum, which it plans to double next year.
The Hover became the first Chinese vehicle to be exported to Europe in 2006, when it went on sale in Italy. The company claims to have sold cars in 108 markets, but many of those were tiny volumes.
Great Wall expanded overseas when it opened a plant in the Ukraine in 2007, and reportedly plans to follow up with a new factory in Russia.
Ateco says Great Wall has been the number-one brand in Chinese pick-up sales for 10 years.
For Australia, the base model SA220 is powered by a 2.2-litre petrol four offering 78kW/190Nm, in contrast with the V240’s 100kW/200Nm from its Mitsubishi-derived 2.4-litre four.
Despite the V240’s larger engine capacity and heavier mass, Ateco figures show it uses marginally less fuel – 10.7L/100km compared with the SA220’s 10.8L/100km – on the combined fuel test cycle.
While the SA220 is longer than its big-engine sibling – 5160mm versus 5040mm – it is superficially smaller in most other dimensions – 110mm narrower (the V240 has flared guards), 50mm lower in height and 25mm shorter in wheelbase.
It also carries a smaller payload – 855kg compared with the one-tonne limit of the V240.
The SA220 weighs in at 1525kg, while the V240 tips the scales at 1660kg kerb weight in 4x2 form and 1780kg in 4x4.
The front suspension on both models is double-wishbone with torsion bar springing, while the rear is conventional leaf-spring solid axle.
Both utes are braked by ventilated disc on the front, and drums at the rear.
ABS and electronic brake-force distribution are standard on the bigger vehicle, but unavailable on the SA220.
Apart from leather upholstery and alloy wheels – 15-inch on the SA220 and 16-inch on the V240 – the list of standard equipment on both vehicles include foglights, electric windows and central locking.
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