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Arbitrator to break Great Wall deadlock

New start: An arbitration decision due about February could pave the way for a resumption of Great Wall vehicle imports, perhaps including newer vehicles such as the Wingle 6.

No deal, so independent arbitrator set to rule on Great Wall dispute

Great Wall logo7 Dec 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIA’S Great Wall import impasse appears set to be decided by an arbitrator in the first quarter of next year.

GoAuto understands that the current distributor, Ateco Automotive, and the factory supplier, China’s Great Wall Motors (GWM), have not been able to come to a negotiated settlement to their wrangle, so it will be left to the arbitrator who has been overseeing recent talks to dish out a decision that will be binding to both parties.

While neither side is commenting on the situation, GoAuto understands that the matter should be finally settled about February.

This is expected to result in the factory taking back the imports rights and Ateco receiving a yet-to-be-decided financial settlement.

The two parties have been at loggerheads for more than a year in a Mexican stand-off that has stalled imports of Great Wall vehicles in Australia for all of 2015.

The dispute appears to have started with Ateco objections to impositions applied by Great Wall – most likely price rises and/or sales targets – which it believed were untenable.

Ateco has told Great Wall it is willing to hand back the franchise, but only with appropriate compensation. Great Wall has baulked at the demand, and despite tortuous negotiations and arbitration, the dispute remains deadlocked.

If, as expected, the situation is resolved in early 2016, Great Wall vehicle distribution most likely will come under the control of GWM’s newly established, factory controlled distributor, Haval Motors Australia (HMA).

HMA was set up to handle Great Wall’s Haval SUV sub-brand here, with sales starting with a three-model range in the past few weeks.

Severely bruised by the dispute, the Great Wall brand will need resuscitation to get it back on its feet, particularly in the retail network.

To the end of November, only 139 Great Wall vehicles have been sold in Australia, compared with 2406 to the same point last year.

Great Wall sales peaked in 2012 when Ateco shifted 11,006 Great Wall vehicles, but then the bubble burst and volumes plummeted 44.5 per cent in 2013.

Assuming HMA takes on the task of re-launching Great Wall, it can be expected to kill off the current range of V-Series utes and X-series SUVs and introduce new-generation vehicles such as the Wingle 6 pick-up.

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