The Chinese brand is the most popular SUV maker in its native market with an astonishing 600,000 sales a year. However, the rest of the world presents a much bigger challenge.
The Great Wall Motor-owned Haval used the 2018 Beijing Motor Show to outline some of the strategies it will use to conquer regions outside China. Speaking to journalists in Beijing, Great Wall Motor group chief executive and executive director Wang Feng Ying said Australia was an important part of that push. “The most important thing for a car brand is globalisation,” she said. “In our first phase of global expansion we list Australia as one of the most important target markets.”
Driving that expansion will include more connectivity and internet-based technologies in Haval models to capture a younger market, along with vehicle safety standards that align with European, and not just Chinese, standards. “GWM has already noticed the new global trend of millennials, that is, paying more focus on new technology like AI and connectivity, and that’s where we have confidence with China as the biggest technology innovation country,” Wang said. “We will capture those younger audiences with safety, connectivity and smart technologies. The Chinese market is growing up quickly and catching up with European regulations and we are making our standards more strict and catching up with the EU, and including the Australian market as well.”
Asked if the brand could one day rise to prominence in a similar manner to South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia, Wang said it was possible but it could not be done the same way. “We are very confident we will succeed in Australian markets but not by simply repeating what has been done by the South Korean brands, but by being more innovative,” she said. “We understand the Korean brands are doing a lot of volume in the Australian market but we believe the consumers always want more technology, better value for money and better styling.”
As well as the greater levels of interior kit and connectivity, GWM Group product planning vice-president Sam Chen said drivetrains were another area under intensive development. A new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is in the works, and will join Haval’s driveline options alongside its in-house developed seven-speed version. Haval said the company’s new eight-speed torque converter auto had also received praise from the Australian market. “The biggest upgrade for us, and we’re hearing a lot of good feedback from our friends in Australia, is the eight-speed automatic transmission, because that’s been very well received,” Chen said. “With that we’re changing our positioning of the product. The Australian market is a very important market for us.”
Engines are also under the microscope with “e-turbo” electric supercharging under consideration and a new, more fuel-efficient Miller cycle engine under development. This more thermally efficient internal combustion engine is commonly paired with hybrid systems – another technology Chen said was being worked on. The first hybrid system to join Haval’s line-up will use a 48-volt battery for what Chen described as “E-four-wheel drive”.
However, for now, Haval will use internal combusion engines. Great Wall Motor (GWM) group chief powertrain engineer Koen Kramer said Haval could add a plug-in hybrid model -- Haval’s sister brand, Wey, has already developed a plug-in system for its P8 – could also make the leap into export models but mild hybrid systems are “not so far away” and would arrive first. “I think two years we will do it,” he said. Haval’s internal combustion engine technology was also under constant development and optimisation, Kramer said, with the focus to open up the company’s products to more potential markets. “We are thinking further afield yes,” he said. “We are currently developing engines for all over the world. I think India is coming. We are looking to Europe and the US.