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First Great Wall SUV here this year

Another first: The Great Wall X240 will be the first Chinese-built SUV to arrive in Australian showrooms.

China’s Great Wall Motors will release its first SUV in Australia in late 2009

17 Aug 2009

THE first Chinese-built SUV and passenger car to go on sale in Australia will arrive here before the end of this year.

Australian Great Wall Motors distributor Ateco Automotive has confirmed that a midsized crossover wagon based on the Hover H3 and a small five-door based on the China market’s Florid hatchback will go on sale locally in late 2009.

The medium SUV, which will go by the name of X240 in Australia, will go head to head with Ford’s Territory and the Toyota Kluger, while the Florid is yet to be officially named by Ateco but will compete in the booming small-car segment alongside the top-selling Mazda3 and Corolla.

Neither the “economical” Florid nor “well-appointed” X240, which is pictured here in Australian specification on local soil for the first time, have received official Australian Design Rule approval.

However, it is understood that ADR approval for the X240 is imminent following the fitment of a new tailgate with revised tail-lights/reflectors, which were air-freighted from China recently.

Both the X240 and Florid will be joined by single-cab versions of the SA220 and V240 dual-cab utilities that launched the Great Wall brand in Australia and New Zealand in late June, with turbo-diesel versions of both utes to follow.

61 center imageFrom top: Great Wall Forid, Great Wall SA220 and Great Wall V240.

The Hover H3 was the first Chinese vehicle to be sold in Europe in significant numbers from 2006, and will be joined in the Chinese market’s Hover family by the entry-level 1.3-litre all-wheel-drive Hover M1, the mid-sized Hover M3 and the full-sized Hover H5.

As with the V240 ute, Australia’s X240 wagon will be powered by a Mitsubishi-sourced 4G64-series 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission, but the same Bosch-developed 2.8-litre turbo-diesel that will become available in both Great Wall utes could also become available in Australia’s Hover.

Based on the Toyota 4Runner chassis and using an exterior derived from the 2002 Isuzu Axiom, the 1720kg Hover rides on a 2700mm wheelbase and measures 4620mm long, 1800mm wide and 1710mm high, making it almost as long but narrower than a Toyota Kluger. The Great Wall Hover’s kerb weight is 1720kg.

Ateco says both commercial models are selling as quickly as supplies permit, with 274 sales recorded in July and Great Wall’s 43 dealers in Australia and New Zealand taking orders for more than 300 vehicles during their first full trading month.

It said the result far exceeded its expectations despite a 30 per cent decline in the commercial vehicle segment in July, thanks mainly to the federal government tax concession that, until December 31, allows businesses with an annual turnover of less than $2 million to claim a 50 per cent depreciation of an eligible vehicle’s cost in the first year.

“No one here is getting carried away at this early stage, but we are greatly encouraged by the initial success of Great Wall’s products and the enthusiasm of our dealer network,” said Ateco Automotive managing director Ric Hull.

The entry-level SA220 twin-cab carries a manufacturer’s list price (plus statutory and dealer delivery costs) of $19,990 for ABN holders, while the 2WD version of the more upmarket V240 four-door costs $23,990, or $26,990 in 4x4 guise.

Ateco said super-competitive pricing and top-end features such as leather seat trim in the V240 was a “deal-maker” for many Great Wall ute buyers.

The company said its dealer network would continue to expand as it “works steadily through its appointment processes”.

“The greatest short-term challenge facing existing Great Wall dealers is finding stock for their showrooms as they meet and exceed sales targets months ahead of expectations,” said a Great Wall spokesman.

“Great Wall availability is expected to improve soon as increased orders of freshly produced vehicles enter the country, while dealer willingness to embrace a forward ordering system has helped Ateco to better match supply to actual individual model demand.”

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