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Haval model range revamp on the way

Next up: The H7 will be a luxury flagship for Haval when it arrives in Australia next year.

Not much doing in diesels but Haval is on the march in Australia

9 Sep 2016

FLEDGLING Chinese SUV brand Haval says it is keen to boost its Australian presence beyond the just-launched H6 mid-sizer, with updates planned for the existing, but slow-selling, models.

The front-drive turbocharged petrol-powered medium SUV is a key plank in the brand’s development in Australia but it also sets the scene for the H7 luxury SUV that is expected to arrive Down Under in 2017 and continued sales growth, according to Haval Motors Australia managing director Parker Shi.

“It (the H6) lays the foundation for the exciting new H7 which will arrive next year, which has more high-tech features and we believe it will be ideal for Australian families,” he said. “It will provide further evidence of our investment in Australia and in new product.”

Sales of the brand’s baby SUV, the H2, as well as its larger H8 and H9 stablemates are underway in Australia but are selling in small numbers.

Despite sales of the Haval range kicking off in October last year, the company only started registering its sales with industry body VFACTS last month. The official figures show that Haval sold 52 units last month, but model updates next year are planned to boost that total.

The H2 will continue unchanged in 2017, alongside the H8 and H9 which are set to benefit from engine, cabin and safety gear upgrades in line with the H6 upgrade, but Haval Motors Australia national marketing manager Bill So said the updated line-up will boost its fortunes Down Under.

“The H7 is a very important model, it will be our most advanced model,” he said. “There’s a European inspired driving feel, like the H6, it's a full seven seater and it has an incredible interior with a virtual dashboard … it is an impressive and important vehicle for us.

“Haval is on the move. We're listening, learning and improving and every new model is a significant step forward,” he added.

Haval Motors Australia chief marketing officer Tim Smith said both the H8 and H9 would be improved with more power and torque, and while diesel powertrains are still not under consideration, the company has its eyes on a 180kW turbocharged petrol powerplant as well as petrol-electric hybrids and a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission when the updated models start arriving in mid-2017.

“Part of my trip to China is to see what’s available, 360-degree cameras, blind spot and lane departure systems, fatigue monitoring, autonomous braking and active cruise will be part of the conversation,” he said.

“We need to give H6 the space it needs. H7 we’ll look at from a long-wheelbase perspective, H8 - we don’t have a car that’s a $45,000 seven-seater.”

One hurdle yet to be cleared by the H6 – and one that has tripped Haval up in the past – is the ANCAP testing regime, which gave a four star rating to the H9 last year.

Haval Motors Australia public relations and product specialist Andrew Ellis said the H6 was available for ANCAP crash testing.

“It's not tested yet. They would like to test it, it’s up to them … I don't want to speculate on an ANCAP result,” he said.

“ANCAP will test it. The cars have literally just arrived. They’ve talked to us and we’ll get through the launch and go from there,” he added.

Modest sales targets accompany the new H6 model, restricted by a dealer network that barely covers the mainland capitals, but Mr Ellis said the dealer launch of the H6 could change that small tally.

“All the Haval dealers are taking on Great Wall, and later this week all our Great Wall dealers will have a look at Haval, a lot of them for the first time.

We're going to expose them to the brand and see,” he said.

The brand has taken heed of its own research and launched the new-generation H6 with sharp driveaway pricing to attract buyers looking for value for money, but Mr Ellis would not speculate on continuing the lower driveway prices into next year.

“Everything is a negotiation, but for now we have the pricing until the end of December and that's plenty for us to look after now,” he said.

Supply constraints are unlikely once production is in full swing – “we could easily get 1000 a month if the demand is there” – with production capacity at 1.8-million vehicles a year and aims of 3m per annum by 2020.

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