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Haval now aims for fourth-quarter debut

On the way: Haval’s H2 small SUV will be in the launch line-up when China’s biggest SUV manufacturer finally rolls out its brand Down Under in the fourth quarter of this year.

China’s biggest SUV manufacturer Haval locks in four dealers and Q4 launch plan


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31 Jul 2015

CHINESE SUV specialist Haval now plans to launch its range of vehicles in Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, a few months later than originally announced.

Haval Motors Australia chief marketing officer Tim Smith said this week that Haval – a division of Great Wall Motors – had signed up four dealers and was on track to have 10 by the end of the year.

Mr Smith said Haval had been working hard to get the Australian operation up and running, and was now in a position to confirm a fourth-quarter launch.

“I hope you can appreciate the size of the task we’re working on, building a brand from scratch,” he said in an email to journalists.

The company had optimistically hoped to launch in June, but as almost every Chinese motor company has discovered in this market, ticking all the boxes for an Australian distribution operation takes longer than expected.

Mr Smith also formerly confirmed the appointment of former journalist and Suzuki public relations manager Andrew Ellis to the Haval staff, based at the company’s Australian headquarters in Melbourne.

Haval already has Australian Design Rule certification for three models – the Toyota Prado-sized H9 heavy-duty seven-seat wagon, the Ford Territory-sized H8 family wagon and the baby of the range, the H2 small five-door SUV that will compete against the likes of the Mitsubishi ASX and Honda HR-V.

According to plans outlined at the Shanghai motor show in April, Haval – China’s biggest SUV brand – plans to add the mid-sized H6 Coupe either late in the year or in early 2016.

The existing Haval H6 is the number-one-selling SUV in China, outselling the likes of Volkswagen’s Tiguan and the Nissan X-Trail.

However, because Haval Australia wants to launch here with vehicles designed to achieve a maximum five-star safety rating from the independent ANCAP authority, the current H6 wagon will be skipped for this market in favour of the newly engineered, western-standard H6 Coupe that has been brought to market by Haval’s multinational design and engineering team led by former BMW designer Pierre Leclercq – the man who penned the BMW X5 and X6.

One benefit of the launch delay in Australia is that the H2 is likely to arrive with a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmission, instead of just the manual as foreshadowed under the original schedule.

The flagship H9 might also be closer to getting a diesel alternative to the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that was to have been the sole powerplant at launch.

All Haval models are expected to come in a choice of two specifications, both with high levels of equipment and – in the case of the H2 – freedom for personalisation.

It is still unclear if Haval Motors Australia will take over its Great Wall sister brand in this market.

At last report, talks between the Chinese company and Australian Great Wall distributor Ateco Automotive had stalled, leaving the ute brand in no man’s land.

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