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Great Wall to launch ute export offensive

Top-three global sales target for Great Wall with new ute to broaden brand horizons

Great Wall logo23 Apr 2019

By ROBBIE WALLIS in SHANGHAI

GREAT Wall Motors is aiming for its all-new mid-size utility to become one of the best-selling pick-ups globally on the back of a massive push into mature, established markets – including Australia – that will see it better compete with the likes of powerhouse brands such as Ford and Toyota.
 
Speaking at the unveiling of the new model – known for now as the P Series Ute – in Shanghai last week, Great Wall executives revealed that the Chinese car-maker is targeting 200,000 annual sales globally and is pushing to become one of the top three small/medium pick-up manufacturers following initial growth in the domestic market.
 
“We will see a big growth from this Great Wall P-range pick-up,” said Great Wall Motors’ global pick-up brand director Haobao Zhang.
 
“It will grow very significantly in the Chinese market first, because it is designed with the thinking to fulfil the Chinese consumers’ minds.
 
“This will be a classic and also top-performing Chinese pick-up totally on the same level as the global pick-up trucks.
 
“Our strategic targets including Chinese domestic sales and also overseas exports, the number is over 200,000 units per year.
 
“We will make every endeavour to become a top-three compact and mid-size pick-up in overseas markets in terms of export. Global sales will become a top-three.”
 
Comparatively, Toyota sold 548,313 examples of its HiLux pick-up globally last year, with the Isuzu D-Max (301,629) and Ford Ranger (267,153) also recording strong results.
 
In order to achieve such high sales figures, Great Wall Motors (GWM) will target substantial growth in existing markets and an expansion into new terrain such as the United States, and will offer customers a broad range of variants and powertrains.
 
Executives said the company will place a heavy emphasis on North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Middle East and South America as its prime markets, with the brand able to further its reach thanks to the increased appeal of the more sophisticated and varied new pick-up.
 
Australia is set to play a large role in the increase in Great Wall sales, with GWM Australia marketing manager Bill Soo telling GoAuto that the company is hopeful it can eclipse any previous sales performances, which peaked at 11,006 combined sales in 2012.
 
“Certainly the expectation around head office is that we would be achieving a much higher volume than we’ve done previously,” he said.
 
For reference, the HiLux was the most popular vehicle in Australia last year, topping the local new-vehicle sales charts with 51,705 sales, while the Ranger (42,144) and Mitsubishi’s Triton (24,896) were also among the top 10 models across the industry.
 
Mr Soo said it would take time for Great Wall to become a market leader in the established Australian market, but the company will work on building its popularity with a comprehensive sales and marketing campaign – devised in partnership with ad agency Havas – that will raise its profile and promote features such as the ute’s refinement and safety, with a five-star ANCAP safety rating expected.
 
“Yes, we’re expecting increases, but we don’t expect we’ll become market leaders overnight,” he said.
 
“We need to build the brand, Havas will hopefully be assisting us with Great Wall to really build the brand, and it’s a combination of things that contribute to the success of the product.
 
“It’s trust, reliability, reputation as well as five-star ANCAP and having a product that actually meets consumers’ requirements.”
 
While Great Wall’s current ute, the Steed, was sold as a value-oriented workhorse, the new range will move upmarket in quality with the introduction of what is known for now as the passenger variant, which brings with it a more sophisticated interior, comfort-oriented multi-link rear suspension and greater connectivity – all in the name of providing a more SUV-like driving experience.
 
This will be sold alongside the more tradie-oriented commercial variant, which will be available with the choice of two wheelbase lengths and will be fitted with heavy-duty leaf-sprung rear suspension.
 
Rounding out the launch range will be an off-road-oriented version to take on the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor and Toyota HiLux Rugged X, featuring fully locking differentials, larger all-terrain tyres and rough-road kit such as a snorkel and bumper-mounted winch.
 
A full range of powertrains will also be offered, including traditional diesel and petrol engines, as well as battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell options in the future.
 
No timeline has yet been given for the release of the alternative-powertrain models, however Mr Soo said Great Wall Australia was pushing to get a wide range of product made available locally.
 
He said that a vehicle with five-star safety and green credentials would appeal to fleet buyers, opening up an opportunity for Great Wall that previously did not exist.
 
“Historically our sales have primarily been to private buyers, and part of that is not having the safety requirements,” he said.
 
“With five-star ANCAP we would expect that we would have a significant increase in sales to medium and large businesses.
 
“I think the EV in particular will have particular opportunity for those businesses with green credentials in the marketplace, either to their clients or their business partners – I think there’s an opportunity there.”
 
The Great Wall ute is set to go on sale in overseas markets from June, however due to localised suspension and tuning programs, Australian customers will not see the new pick-up until the end of 2020.

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