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Haval prepping renewed Aussie assault

Have a go: Great Wall Motors Group is expected to transform Haval Australia over the next few years with new marketing strategies, better customer services and renewed products with improved quality and features.

Competitive new product and fresh marketing pushing to pitch Haval against Koreans

Haval logo30 Apr 2018

By TUNG NGUYEN in BEIJING

HAVAL has identified Australia as a crucial region in its ambitions to become a worldwide automotive player, plotting new marketing initiatives, fresh product and a revamped brand experience that will roll out at the turn of the decade.

While Haval has made a little headway in Australia’s competitive new-car market since launching in late-2015, a number of new hires – including former Honda Australia head of dealer network Gary Morgan as dealer network manager and ex-Mazda executive Hidesuke Takesue as chief operating officer – are expected to help the car-maker increase its market share.

Last year, Haval sold 710 new vehicles locally and, while that represented a 148.3 per cent increase over its haul in 2016, the Chinese brand’s year-end tally represented just 0.1 per cent of Australia’s 1,189,116 new-vehicle registrations.

In its Chinese home market though, Haval’s most popular model, the H6 mid-size SUV, found just over half a million homes, while the overall Chinese market is more than 23 times larger than Australia’s with 28 million sales in 2017.

Speaking to Australian journalists at the Beijing motor show last week, Great Wall Motors (GWM) Group chief executive officer Wang Fengying said Australian was an important market for the Chinese automotive giant.



 center imageLeft: GWM Group CEO Wang Fengying



“I think the most important thing for a car brand is globalisation, that’s the difference between other commodities,” she said. “In our first phase of global expansion, we identified Australia as one of the most important target markets in the global expansion.

“There are mainly three reasons why we believe so. First we believe the Chinese and Australian government has strong ties in terms of economy, they have a lot of cooperation in many fields, and also we believe there is also the potential of going to the Chinese community in Australia, which is quite a large audience as well.

“Also in this Australian market, we believe we have seen the South Koreans succeed in the market, and we compare our performance and quality, and we are confident we will succeed.

“This also doesn’t really mean we need to sell a lot of cars in terms of volume, but it (Australia) has strategic significance for our brand to succeed in the future as a global automotive brand company.”

Essentially, GWM Group sees Australia as sort of a pilot market where it can experiment and refine its formula before launching an assault on more complex and larger regions such as the United States and mainland Europe.

While other marques such as Infiniti have found it hard to gain traction in the local market and Opel was pulled after just one year of Australian sales, GWM Group vice-president of product planning Sam Chen said the quality of new-generation products will form the basis of Haval’s growth.

“We’re going to be – if you want to call it – re-strategise our thinking … from product all the way to marketing and sales, so there will be some significant changes,” he said.

“If you want to fast forward to some of our future product, we’re actually really excited to say our next-generation product will be much, much more – it will have a bigger change than we currently have right now.

“So by that, what I mean is new platform – this will be truly more competitive, next-generation products, but I do want to say that we still truly want to stay SUV.

“It won’t be earlier than 2020, that’s all I can tell you. It’s actually something we are really already working on, so this is not just a concept idea.”

Meanwhile, Ms Wang said the Chinese brand would have to forge its own path to success in the Australian market and not compete against Kia and Hyundai’s strengths.

“We understand the volume might not be strong at the moment, but we think Australian consumers will accept our products in quick time,” she said.

“We are very confident that we will succeed in the Australian market, but not by simply repeating what has been done by the South Korean brands, but be more innovative. All the products from the GWM Group like Wey and Haval are far beyond their performance in terms of quality in the Chinese market.

“We understand Korean brands are doing a lot of volume in the Australian market, but we believe consumers always want more technologies, more value for money, better styling … that’s why we are confident we will bring good enough products to compete in the market, and competition in the Australian market is going to help us to better our products and help us win.”

Ms Fengying also said Haval’s investment in connected technologies such as in-car internet connectivity, biometrics and artificial intelligence (as seen in the Wey X concept), as well as a leap forward in build quality, noise, vibration and harshness reduction and safety systems will help reframe the Chinese brand in customer’s minds.

She revealed that Haval’s aftersales would also be overhauled in an attempt to focus more on customer service and satisfaction – an attribute borrowed from Japanese car-makers.

“We also want to build a strong dealer network in Australia and let our Haval dealerships pleasantly surprise with their services, and also in showing the integrity and professionalism in our services,” Ms Fengying said.

“We want to build a system that can have this Japanese-style, high-quality (and) considerate service procedures in the Australian dealer networks.

“We want to build a brand that instantly creates value and pleasantly surprises consumers to build a trustworthy brand in the Australian market.”

Although details on Haval Australia’s transformation are still under wraps, Ms Fengying said the brand is committed to the long term with more particulars to be revealed before year’s end.

“We totally understand the Chinese brands need to take time and investment to succeed in the Australian market, we understand we will … keep improving our products to gain a better competitive position in the Australian market,” she said.

“In terms of brand communication and marketing, we are forming a more detailed plan for further and bigger investment later this year when we have more clarity in terms of strategies in the Australian market.”

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