The Tank 600, Great Wall Motors’ new Toyota LandCruiser Prado rival, has been officially revealed.
It’ll make its in-person debut at the Chengdu motor show, which runs from August 27 to September 5.
“We continue to look at the development of Tank with great interest and an Australian introduction is still very much under consideration,” said a spokesperson from GWM Haval Australia.
“In regards to specific Tank models, we’ll evaluate the business case thoroughly to decide which ones would be a good fit for Australia.”
The large, body-on-frame SUV will be powered by GWM’s new turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine, which produces 260kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission designed in-house.
Its styling isn’t quite as rectilinear as the smaller Tank 300 with a gently curving shoulder line, though it wears a bluff, chrome-laden face and an external spare tyre at the rear.
The company hasn’t released any further information about the Tank 600, while its interior remains unseen.
It’ll slot in above the previously revealed 300, another body-on-frame SUV, in GWM’s new Tank sub-brand.
An even larger SUV was previewed in concept form at the 2021 Shanghai motor show, bearing the Tank 800 name.
The Tank 800 concept also featured the new six-cylinder engine, albeit with a plug-in hybrid system.
GWM has also revealed a version of this engine with a conventional hybrid system in the X Cannon ute. It features a 125kW/425Nm electric motor, with a peak combined torque figure of 750Nm.
Though it’s a body-on-frame SUV, the Tank 300 – expected to launch locally in 2022 – is quite a bit smaller than the Prado, measuring 4760mm long, 1930mm wide and 1927mm tall on a 2750mm wheelbase.
That puts it relatively close to the four-door Ford Bronco dimensionally.
In contrast, the Prado is 4995mm long, 1885mm wide, 1890mm tall, and has a 2790mm wheelbase. The Tank 600’s dimensions are expected to be very similar.
That’s despite GWM already having a Prado rival in the shape of the venerable H9 from its Haval brand.
Measuring 4856mm long, 1926mm wide, 1900mm tall and riding a 2800mm wheelbase, the H9 has recently received a minor facelift in the Chinese market.
Both it and the Tank 300 are powered by turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engines.
GWM now has several brands in the Chinese market, including GWM for utes, Haval for SUVs, Wey for premium SUVs and Ora for electric cars.
The new Tank-branded cars promise to be more rugged than SUVs from Haval and Wey.
To that effect, the Tank 300 comes with locking front and rear differentials, an off-road creep mode and, appropriately enough, a tank turn function.
Based on the same body-on-frame platform as the GWM Ute, it may also be offered with a diesel option.
GWM Australia has already brought in some left-hand drive Tank 300s for testing and promotional purposes.
It says it has run focus groups and presented the business case to head office to get the 300 here.
The decision is currently being evaluated by headquarters in Baoding, around whether sales forecasts justify the right-hand drive investment.
Great Wall Motors is rapidly expanding beyond the Chinese market as founder and chairman Jack Wey, who owns 54 per cent of the company, wants a global footprint.
Earlier this month, it officially bought the Iracemápolis plant in Brazil from Daimler, and is already producing cars at the ex-General Motors plant in Rayong, Thailand.
GWM’s Australian national sales company is seen as a key part of its global plans: as a lucrative sales and profit opportunity for one, but also as a test market of sorts for further global expansion.
More than a million of GWM’s 1.16 million global sales last year were in China, and the Haval H6 line was the country’s best-selling SUV.
It’s targeting four million sales globally by 2025.
The company says that, given its current dealer order rate and forward estimates, it’s targeting 18,000 sales in Australia this calendar year – up 240 per cent from its 5244 sales last year, which in turn was up from just 3108 sales in 2019.