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Great Wall hits sales speed bump

Off the wall: Great Wall sales are well down for the first six months of the year, with the V-Series utes the hardest hit.

Ateco looks to stem the tide as Great Wall sales fall 34 per cent

Great Wall logo11 Jul 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

GREAT Wall is blaming a double-digit sales dive this year on its ageing model line-up and fierce competition from Japanese and Thai-built rivals.

The Chinese brand recorded a sales drop of 33.8 per cent for the first six months of this year, shifting only 3841 vehicles compared with 5798 in the same period last year.

Daniel Cotterill, the Asian brands public relations consultant for Great Wall importer Ateco Automotive, said a number of factors had contributed to the drop in sales, including aggressive pricing from Thai and Japanese-built rivals.

“First and foremost, the Japanese devalued their currency earlier in the year allowing some of our very well-known competitors to be even more price-competitive,” he said.

“Secondly, despite our success in this country in expanding to a very good dealer network, not only in terms of size and locations but the quality of the dealers, we haven't been able to get new product to them as quickly as we would like.

“If you get the double-edged sword of immediate competitors sneaking closer to you in terms of price and your offering perhaps not looking quite as fresh as it did, that's not very helpful — and that's what I would attribute our performance to.” While each model in Great Wall's local line-up has experienced a double-digit drop, the biggest loser is the V240 4x4 ute, which is down by 57.2 per cent, managing year-to-date sales of just 175 units compared with last year’s tally of 409.

The two-wheel drive version of the V200 ute is down by 43.9 per cent with 323 fewer sales than last year, while the 2WD V240 has seen a 24.8 per cent drop in sales to 846 units, down from 1125 last year.

Great Wall's top-selling LCV, the all-wheel-drive V200 also lost ground with sales taking a 31.6 per cent nosedive to 1238 sales, down from last year's mid-year total of 1809.

The all-wheel-drive V200 ute was the best-selling Great Wall last year with year-end sales of 3471.

The decline in Great Wall's ute sales is in stark contrast to the overall 4x4 utility segment, which is up 24.1 per cent on last year's January to June figures.

This compares with a number of key competitors experiencing a sales lift, including the Ford Ranger (68 per cent), Volkswagen’s Amarok (38.8 per cent) and the aging Mitsubishi Triton (59.5 per cent).

Sales of the X200 diesel SUV experienced a smaller dive than its utility stablemates, with a 17.9 per cent drop over the same period last year, while the petrol-engined X240, which is not sold in Victoria due to its lack of electronic stability control, is down by 56.1 per cent.

Mr Cotterill said Ateco was doing all it could to try and stem the tide and turn sales around for the Chinese brand this year.

“We have been ‘bonussing’ various cars at various levels at different times. We know what the issues are and once you know them it’s a question of how quickly you can address them and how you can address them.” Mr Cotterill said Ateco would continue its advertising and marketing campaign while maintaining efficient business practices to keep local prices down.

“We (Ateco Automotive) do an over-riding thing as a company, whether they are Chinese, Korean or European cars, to bring them to market as efficiently as we can. What it comes down to is if we can keep the costs down as low as possible, the customer gets the best price on the car,” he said.

“So we tend to take the most efficient approach, whether it’s with marketing or PR or whatever the task may be, we keep that in mind all the time.” Great Wall's dealer network will expand to almost 90 outlets later this year, with an unidentified private dealer recently buying a site at 462 Geelong Road, West Footscray, in Melbourne's inner west, for $1.4 million.

The large site covers 1425 square metres and will add to existing new-car dealerships on the burgeoning strip, including Binks Ford and LeMans Toyota.

While Mr Cotterill stopped short of calling the new dealership a flagship site, he said that it would be an impressive addition to Great Wall's dealer network when it opened in September this year.

“Given the nature of the premises and the size of it, and I think people are all pretty keen to do a good job of it, almost as a result of that it has to end up being a pretty good-looking facility.”

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