The HAVAL name is slowing starting to gain some traction in Australia with the Chinese manufacturer working hard to spread the word about its very competitively priced offerings.
By their own admission things have started off reasonably slowly for HAVAL in Australia, certainly when compared to the Great Wall Motors success achieved by that brand in our market through its first few years down under.
An interesting fact is that Great Wall is the parent company, HAVAL and premium SUV brand, WEY, are the sub-brands.
Looking towards the future, HAVAL should have a much more engaging array of products to offer in our market.
I got the chance to get an up close up look at an array on new products shown by HAVAL, and also WEY, at the Auto China event in Beijing and had the chance to talk with the CEO of Great Wall, Wang Fengying.
To be honest, the only real disappointment from the show is that a lot of the new product/tech is not going to be available in Australia…yet.
Some examples of the new product includes an all-new compact SUV, the HAVAL H4, and in the flesh it looked a very well proportioned and nicely kitted-out offering.
At this stage though that vehicle (which would just squeeze into our medium-size SUV segment based on its proportions) is only going to be targeted at the Chinese domestic market.
What a shame.
We also got a look at an improved new version of the HAVAL H6.
The H6 currently available in Australia is still a while off enjoying the updated looks, improved equipment (including Autonomous Emergency Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control), along with the new powertrain, that the updated model boasts.
That powertrain includes a Euro 5 compliant 1.5 litre turbo-petrol engine producing 124kW/285Nm and an in-house developed seven-speed auto transmission.
While local buyers would also welcome a couple of new features that the Chinese version gets – improved seats, seat heaters up front and rear USB points.
Also shown at the event was a completely new HAVAL offering – the F5.
HAVAL vehicles featuring the ‘F’ designation are aimed at younger car buyers (those scarely born in the 1990’s!).
Likely to be sold direct to customers on the internet, the four-seat HAVAL F5 has been designed to make owners feel “cool and modern”.
Once again, no luck for young Aussie car buyers just yet – the F5 is aimed, at this point at least, only on China.
Also shown at Auto China was a couple of models from the premium SUV brand belonging to HAVAL/Great Wall – WEY.
One vehicle, a concept at this stage, called the ‘WEY X’ promises full level 5 autonomous driving (that means the vehicle will take care of all the driving).
While a hybrid SUV, the 250kW/524Nm WEY P8 was also shown.
So, where do we stand with getting these new and improved models?
Madam Wang promised we would see improved products landing in our market from 2019 and that they WEY brand was being looked at closely for Australia.
“We understand that our current volume is low, but we think Australia will accept our new/improved products in quick time.”
While she also confirmed that Australia was a high priority for Great Wall Motors.
“The most important thing for a car brand is globalisation, that’s where it differs from other commodities.
“When we started looking at a plan for globalisation Australia was a very early target, this is because of the strong ties between Australia and China and there was already a lot of cooperation between the countries.
“We also see an opportunity to reach the Chinese people living in Australia.”
The CEO, one of the most senior female executives in the global car industry, was also asked about the rival South Korean brands and their strong standing in Australia.
She said that their success did not deter her.
“We have seen what the South Koreans have done in the Australian market and we are confident of our own success.
“But we intend to be more innovative than the Koreans.”
Madam Wang explained that being in the Australian market is a good thing for Great Wall/HAVAL because it makes the company strive for better products.
While she also acknowledged that the company needs to invest more resources into Australia, specifically around marketing and local testing and tuning (an area where Kia/Hyundai have been able to make great strides in Australia).
We will keep you updated as further details come to hand.