Great Wall wants to introduce the first electric ute into the Australian market... and it could happen sooner than you think.
The Chinese vehicle maker yesterday revealed its all-new Model P ute at the Shanghai motor show, including a battery-electric version which will go on sale in China toward the end of this year.
Great Wall also confirmed the EV version would be available to right-hand-drive markets, though it added a caveat about market demand. Great Wall has recently expanded operations to right-hand-drive markets including South Africa and New Zealand.
READ MORE Great Wall previews new dual-cab ute
While uptake of electric vehicles, in general, isn’t at lightning pace in Australia - less than 500 were sold last year, including an estimate of Tesla's unreported sales - Great Wall’s local arm sees it as an excellent opportunity to help build brand attention as it introduces its Steed replacement later next year.
Speaking in Shanghai, Great Wall Australia managing director Koma Li said while it was too soon to discuss timing and pricing, being the first brand to introduce an EV pickup in Australia would be a smart marketing move.
“I agree that sales (of EVs) are very limited now, but in terms of the brand image, I say EVs would position us … so we can capture attention from customers and prepare for the next step for our growth,” he said.
Li’s announcement is timely, given the current political debate over EVs and the spurious claim by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Labor’s policy of encouraging 50 percent take of EVs is a “war on the weekend” and that Australia’s favourite 4WDs including the Hilux “are out”.
READ MORE EV policy to "kill weekend" - PM
Details about the EV ute are scarce, but we do know it will be a commercial spec vehicle with leaf-spring rear suspension, two-wheel drive, a single motor and a battery range of about 500km.
The company is yet to reveal practical specifications including payload and towing capacity, or whether or not its range is based on tare weight or gross vehicle mass.
Great Wall is also developing a hydrogen fuel cell version of the Model P ute which it intends to launch in the next couple of years.