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Great Wall dispute resolution nears

Wingle and a prayer: Great Wall Motors could be back in the Australian game soon with a new importer and more up-to-date and competitive products based on the Wingle 6 ute.

Mid-year conclusion hoped for drawn-out Great Wall distribution impasse in Australia

Great Wall logo7 Apr 2016

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

THE impasse hanging over distribution arrangements for Chinese brand Great Wall since 2014 looks set to be resolved within months as arbitration talks edge closer toward a decision.

GoAuto understands the current Great Wall distributor, Sydney-based Ateco Automotive, which launched the Chinese ute and SUV range in 2009, will hand the rights to Melbourne-based Haval Motors Australia (HMA), a factory-controlled importer set up by Great Wall Motors (GWM) last year to sell the company’s Haval-branded SUVs in Australia.

HMA public relations and product specialist Andrew Ellis told GoAuto the company was “definitely a lot closer” to reaching a deal, but was unable to comment further “until the court actually says we can”.

Asked when an announcement was likely, Mr Ellis said: “We are hoping it will be by mid-year.”

It is understood that the upcoming announcement on the outcome will come from HMA’s end, but how this will lead to the resumption of Great Wall sales in Australia, and with which products, remains to be seen.

Likely to be at the top of HMA’s wish-list is the Wingle 6 ute, which in overseas markets including China is a successor to the V-series sold in Australia and called Wingle 5 in China.

The Wingle 6 represents a significant step forward from the V-Series in terms of interior presentation and technology, with a more car-like and premium-looking cabin featuring six-way electric driver’s seat adjustment, a leather multi-function steering wheel, auto-dimming interior mirror, a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring.

Electronic stability control is also available, along with six airbags, seatbelt monitor and rear parking sensors. Eight colours are available, including “Toyota Red”.

A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine producing 110kW of power and 310Nm of torque sends drive through a six-speed manual transmission. A rear differential lock is available on both 4x2 and 4x4 drivelines.

The Australian Great Wall dispute is thought to be over the level of compensation to Ateco for its work establishing the Great Wall brand in the Australian market and the value that carries – although the standing of the Great Wall name continues to diminish as the battle drags on and dealerships remain without fresh product.

GoAuto has also heard that that customers are suffering due to insufficient supply of certain spare parts.

Origins of the dispute are understood to be over price rises and sales targets handed down by the factory to Ateco, which did not believe they were achievable.

Sales of Great Wall vehicles in Australia peaked in 2012 with 11,006 units shifted during the year, but volumes plummeted 44.5 per cent in 2013, followed by another 56.8 per cent dive in 2014.

Imports of new Great Wall vehicles then halted , leaving dealerships with only residual V-Series ute and X-Series SUV stock during 2015, meaning the brand sold just 142 units last year, while so far in 2016 a solitary V240 4x2 ute has been picked up – probably at a serious knock-down price.

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