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Ateco ‘open to Malaysian Great Wall imports’

New horizons: Great Wall’s Haval H6 mid-sized SUV has until now only been made in China, but is set to be produced in Malaysia.

Great Wall’s new Malaysian factory might offer alternative to Chinese products

20 Aug 2014

AUSTRALIAN Great Wall importer Ateco Automotive says it is open to the possibility of importing Great Wall vehicles from a new Malaysian plant, as long as those new-generation vehicles can meet its requirements of price, quality, specification and delivery.

Ateco Automotive PR consultant Daniel Cotterill said it was too early to say if either of the Great Wall products made at Go Automobile Manufacturing’s new $620 million plant in Kedah state, Malaysia – the mid-sized Haval H6 and compact Haval M4 SUVs – would be available or suitable for the Australian market.

Mr Cotterill said Ateco believed the larger of the two, the H6, was the best option for Australia but that the company had not been able to get the Chinese version to market.

“The H6 has been on our radar at various times and, in fact, we had hoped to have that car introduced by now,” he said. “But for various reasons haven’t been able to achieve that.

“We were quite impressed with the H6. If we could get the right spec vehicle at the right money, we would still happily proceed with that.

“But our experience has shown, both with Chinese vehicles and with others that, unless you’ve got the package right, it won’t work.” Mr Cotterill said Ateco was still wrestling with the H6, trying to obtain supplies with a specification suitable for Australia at the right price.

He said his company had not yet assessed the new small SUV, the Haval M4, for this market.

“We have not looked at the M4 at all,” he said.

Since its release in May 2012, the 1.5 litre M4 has become Great Wall’s best seller, totting up around 200,000 sales in China in its first 18 months. Great Wall makes about 850,000 vehicles a year.

In Malaysia, the manufacturing licence top produce Great Wall vehicles was the the first issued by the Malaysian government for some years, coming after the introduction of the 2014 National Automotive Plan that swept away many previous restrictions.

The Go Automobile plant is a joint venture between Malaysian investors and China-based Great Wall, and is scheduled to start production next month. The plant is expected to reach full production capacity of 100,000 units a year in 2018.

The vehicles are built in right-hand drive for the local market – an potential advantage for Australia sales.

However, Mr Cotterill said the Australia Department of Transport would need to certify the plant before imports could be considered.

Mr Cotterill said that if the H6 could be made to work in Australia, Ateco would consider importing it from the new Malaysian plant.

“It would depend on the economics,” he said. “All of our previous price build-ups have been based on Chinese manufactured vehicles.

“However, if the quality was the same but there was an advantage in terms of timeliness or freight costs, then sure, why not.” Mr Cotterill said that while Ateco might assess all Great Wall models for their possibilities in Australia other factors needed to be considered.

“As a matter of policy, we need to see some fundamentals in that business, which to date has been commercial vehicles, utilities and SUVs,” he said.

“We’d also dearly liked to have launched a small Great Wall passenger car, and we got very close to that a couple of times.

“Unless a particular product offering really matches up with our fundamental goals for that business, then we wouldn’t look that closely at it.

“That said, anything – new-generation platform, right-hand drive – is potentially of interest to us. But the M4, not to date.”

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