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Chinese explosions rip port car yards

Car smash: Thousands of burned out imported cars litter port holding yards at Tianjin after Wednesday night’s explosions. Pictures: Chinanews.com.

Haval escapes Tianjin blast damage, but awaits news on port devastation

13 Aug 2015

AUSTRALIA’S newest vehicle company, Haval Motors Australia, is breathing a sigh of relief after its parent company’s operations in the Chinese city of Tianjin escaped major damage in giant explosions that devastated the city’s port area last night.

However, as Haval’s representatives have not been able to access the disaster zone, it is unclear if China’s biggest SUV manufacturer and rival car-makers such as Foton are facing delays to exports from the biggest port in northern China.

Photographs of Tianjin’s port zone show thousands of blackened, burned out vehicles – mostly imported Volkswagen, Renault and Land Rover cars – in the Tianjin port logistics zone where a series of blasts in a hazardous goods storage warehouse killed at least 40 people and injured hundreds more.

The cars were being stored in importer Tianjin Port International Logistics Company’s yards, an area covering the size of several football fields near the warehouse that blew up when explosives ignited.

The closely packed cars appear to have burned in rows, with flames spreading from one to another.

A subsidiary of Great Wall Motors, Haval operates a huge car factory in Tianjin, on the coast south of Beijing, where it builds the number-one-selling SUV in that country, the Haval H6, along with the small H2.

GoAuto understands that the Haval factory escaped damage in the blast, and that no newly minted Haval vehicles were hit.

However, the goods handling area at the port was badly damaged.

Rival Chinese car-maker FAW – a joint-venture partner of Volkswagen – also makes vehicles in Tainjin. One of the news images from the disaster area shows a holding yard of burned VW Beetles, but they reportedly were on their way into the Chinese market, not out.

Renault Koleos and Land Rover Discovery SUVs could also be made out in the devastation, all with their windows blown out and mostly burned to the ground.

As well as Tianjin, Haval operates car factories at its home base in Baoding – about 100km inland from Tianjin.

Export vehicles from both sites are believed to be shipped through the port of Tianjin, which also is the main export shipping point for Beijing – home to another Chinese motor company operating in Australia, Foton.

Haval Motors Australia is preparing to launch its range of SUVs in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, starting with three models – the H2, H8 and H9. The H6 coupe is expected to follow early next year.

The company has appointed four dealers to date – in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia – and hopes to fill another six open points by the end of the year.

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