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Beijing show: Wey brand being studied for Australia

In the Wey: Chinese luxury SUV-maker Wey could make its debut in Australia and other international markets if all goes according to plan.

Price, positioning, volume key factors for Wey’s potential local introduction

Haval logo26 Apr 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in BEIJING

GREAT Wall Motors (GWM) Group is currently assessing the suitability/viability of the its luxury brand, Wey, for an Australia introduction, but the company says market factors and positioning will determine whether it ends up Down Under.

Speaking to Australian journalists at the Beijing motor show, GWM Group vice-president of product planning Sam Chen said the Chinese manufacturer was actively evaluating the case to export Wey to other countries, including Australia.

“We’re actually doing a lot of studies right now, so we don’t want to limit our application of which brand goes to which overseas market, but yeah, we’re actually studying that (the Australian introduction of Wey) right now,” he said.

“We’re actually doing a lot of market research, meaning we do market clinics, we do consumer interviews.

“We have to decide … what’s the best chance of success for our brand? What’s our volume possibility? What’s our position? Who’s going to be our key competitor? So, these are really things we’re looking at.”

Launched in China in late-2016, the Wey brand takes its name from GWM Group chairman Wei Jianjun and it currently offers two home-market luxury-orientated SUVs – the VV5 and VV7.

Also set to launch this year in China is the P8 plug-in hybrid, the just-revealed RS7 (not to be confused with the hard-charging Audi with the same name) and VV6 crossover.

Although Mr Chen did not reveal which Wey models could come to Australian showrooms if the brand gets the green light, he said it was important for Wey to retain its up-market focus.

“For Wey, we definitely want to be premium – that’s the position we’ve taken in China,” he said. “So Wey, regardless of where it is, which global market it goes, our position has still got to be premium.

“Now premium doesn’t necessarily mean luxury right, so we have to be careful where we position this premium brand, we’re not saying right off the back we’re going to be competing against Mercedes and BMW or the likes of Lexus.

“This is something we have to be really careful in how we position our brand and our products.”

Speaking exclusively to GoAuto on the Wey stand at the Beijing show, former Audi executive and Wey chief executive officer and Great Wall vice-president Jens Steingraeber reiterated the brand’s global ambitions, but added that they would focus on the Chinese domestic market first.

“Global, we will play, I cannot tell you when,” he said. “First, we have to deliver (the vehicles) to our (Chinese) dealers because we have to be fair, we forced them to develop a really big dealership, it was a large and huge investment that means we have to pay attention so they get the pay-off soon.

“So what we want to do is … go into long, fair, robust and successful partnerships. If you want to have a robust partnership it needs to be successful for both sides, so let’s take care of our dealers in China …. then we will make a product line that goes international.”

However, GWM Group CEO Wang Fengying said for Wey to be introduced Down Under, the Chinese auto-maker would need to ramp up its Haval presence first.

“We are also positively exploring the possibility of selling the Wey products in the Australian market,” she told Australian journalists. “But first of all, we need to get the popularity of Haval first in the Australian market.”

Haval was launched in Australia in October 2015, initially with three models – the H2, H8 and H9 – before the arrival of the H6 in 2016. Sales have grown from 286 units in 2016 to 710 last year.

GWM Group is currently developing a new-generation modular platform that will underpin Haval’s line-up of SUVs – including the small H2 and mid-size H6 – that is expected to come to market around 2020 and form the crux of the brand’s renewed push in Australia.

As previously reported in 2016, GWM has already registered the Wey brand in Australia and if all goes as planned, expect to see the premium Chinese SUVs on local roads well into the next decade.

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