Made in China: Haval SUV brand arrives in Australia
IT'S fair to say Chinese car brands have struggled in Australia's crowded automotive market both in terms of sales and acceptance.
But that doesn't mean they're about to stop trying.
This month Australia's newest automotive brand has been launched - Haval - which says it makes only premium SUVs and is entering Australia with three variants, the H2, H8 and H9, for the compact, medium and large SUV segments.
Haval launched its first SUV in China in 2002, and has established itself as what it calls "the premier SUV manufacturer in the world's biggest automobile market".
Haval says it is committed to becoming the world's leading specialist SUV brand, stating it's been the top-selling SUV brand in China for 13 consecutive years. But how many other brands are simply SUV specialists?
The H2 is an "urban SUV" with a 110kW/210Nm turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol; the H8 a large "urban SUV" aimed at families and has a 160kW/324Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol; while the H9 is a seven-seat ladder frame chassis 4WD with low range and the same 2.0-litre engine.
The brand has set up its Australian corporate headquarters in Melbourne, with two foundation dealerships in Victoria, one in Sydney and one in Perth.
Managing Director of Haval, Parker Shi, said the company was working to have 10 dealers by the end of this year and at least 25 by the end of 2016.
And Mr Shi came up with some impressive statistics to back his forecasts. "In 2013, we sold our 1 millionth vehicle," he said.
"In 2014 we posted a 23 per cent increase in sales over 2013 and made the top 10 for the list of global SUV sales for the first time, ahead of brands such as BMW, Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Mercedes Benz."
At the brand's launch it was announced that all Havals sold in Australia would be backed by a five-year, 100,000km warranty, five years of roadside assist and a five-year service price guarantee.
A spokesman also said Haval was working with ANCAP to realise a 5 Star ANCAP rating.
Haval has recently opened a $4 billion R&D centre in China, and said its two Chinese manufacturing plants were capable of producing 1.8 million SUVs each year.
No launch date or prices for Havals in Australia were revealed.