Great Wall Motor, maker of the GWM Ute and Haval-branded SUVs, is making inroads into Australia – which has now become the company’s number-one export market by sales.

    The company said this week it had sold 884,045 cars worldwide over the first three quarters of 2021, up 30 per cent. The vast majority were in China but 97,946 (11 per cent) were exported.

    GWM Australia accounts for 13,200 of these, up a remarkable 270 per cent year-on-year and bang on track to hit its existing 18,000 unit target. It has also expanded its dealer network from 40 during 2020 to around 85 now, with more expected.

    That puts the company’s local division ahead of other key export markets such as South Africa.

    While it was a slow build for GWM in Australia since launching here as a factory-owned subsidiary in 2016 – Great Walls were sold by an independent distributor with some success before that – it sure has a head of steam now.

    The 2021 sales haul this year makes it Australia’s fastest-growing car company, edging out the much-lower-volume Genesis on percentage terms. It now sits in 16th spot overall, sandwiched between Suzuki and Audi. Its annual sales are also just 260 cars behind Honda.

    Its top-seller has been the GWM Ute with a tick over 5200 sales and 3.5 per cent market share in the 4×4 market – for context the LDV T60 also has 3.5 per cent share, while the Volkswagen Amarok has 4.3 per cent.

    The company’s local arm says it now has some stock shortages, having sold beyond projections, though these are projected to be ironed out during 2022.

    Also key are two new models, the Haval Jolion small SUV (2330 sales, 2.4 per cent market share) and Haval H6 medium SUV (2217, 1.9 per cent market share).

    Further sales come from the discontinued Haval H2 (replaced by Jolion) and Great Wall Steed (replaced by GWM Ute), as well as the ageing H9 full-size 4×4.

    Naturally, there’s a further wave of products in the pipeline.

    Of most importance to GWM’s next wave of expansion is the Haval H6 hybrid, a competitor to Toyota’s hot-selling and supply-restricted petrol-electric RAV4. It has potent system outputs of 179kW of power and 530Nm of torque – top in its class.

    While GWM Australia will not confirm as much, we also understand that the sleeker H6S ‘coupe SUV’ – à la the Renault Arkana – is on target for Australia before the half-way point of 2022.

    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 precursor (test) market for further global expansion.

    Founder and Chairman Jack Wey, who owns 54 per cent of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company, wants a global footprint.

    The company is expected to launch two box-shaped SUVs, the Haval Big Dog and Tank 300, from 2022, having sent over test vehicles to Australia for evaluation. Tank was recently made its own GWM group brand, and has been a smash hit in China.

    The Haval Big Dog is mechanically the same as the new H6 but ‘top hats’ the chassis with a boxier, more rugged design vaguely reminiscent of a Mercedes-Benz GLB.

    The body-on-frame Tank 300 is a different beast altogether. This GWM Ute-based 4×4 has low-range gearing as well as front and rear electromechanical locking diffs, and is expected to have a diesel option.

    Next cabs off the rank are EVs from another GWM Motor brand, Ora, which are likewise “very much on the GWM Au roadmap” according to company management.

    The Ora Cat retro EV hatch is to be made in right-hand drive for the UK by next year, so an Australian launch to compete with other bargain Chinese EV-makers such as BYD and MG doesn’t seem much of a stretch.

    Other potential GWM products being evaluated for export include the Ora Cherry Cat EV with its cobalt-free battery; Toyota Prado-sized Tank 500; the GWM X Cannon full-size Ram 1500 pickup competitor; and various toughened-up GWM Pickups reminiscent of this.

    MORE: China’s HiLux gets hardcore treatment
    MORE: Meet GWM’s Jeep Wrangler off-road rival

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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