One of China’s big four state-owned automakers has set its sights on right-hand drive markets, including Australia.
Changan is expanding into right-hand drive markets with its Deepal brand, which produces electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and range-extender electric vehicles.
Thailand is critical to this plan, with Changan spending A$379 million to construct a plant in Rayong with the aim of producing 100,000 Deepal vehicles annually there in 2025.
The Thai plant will produce EVs, PHEVs and range-extender electric vehicles, and the company has confirmed it will export vehicles to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.
The company plans to build 450,000 Deepal vehicles across all its production facilities in 2024.
Parent company Changan already sells vehicles in various left-hand drive markets including Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
While a date hasn’t been set for Deepal’s Australian introduction, Autocar reports Changan will introduce the brand into the UK with a rugged off-roader.
Dubbed the G318, the rugged off-roader will be based on a ladder-frame chassis to maximise wheel articulation according to Autocar.
Similar to the S07/L07, the G318 will reportedly feature a range-extender petrol-electric drivetrain.
Such a drivetrain could be inherited from the S07/L07, which team a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre petrol generator with two electric motors.
This would grant the G318 all-wheel drive capability, with the drivetrain producing as much as 192kW of power.
19kWh or 28.4kWh battery options are reportedly available, with ranges lying between 514 and 1200 kilometres according to Chinese CLTC testing.
In typical off-roader fashion, the G318 features a spare wheel mounted on its tailgate, as well as roof racks containing additional driving lights and boxy exterior styling.
Changan is one of China’s oldest carmakers, originally producing military hardware from the late 1860s. The company’s first car was a Willys Jeep-like military off-roader for the Chinese Government in 1959.
The company has since accumulated 35 years of experience building passenger cars. It also has joint ventures with Ford and Mazda.
Deepal is an electrified brand that falls under Changan’s umbrella, and was only launched in September 2022. All of its vehicles feature some form of electrification.
Its L07 sedan and S07 SUV debuted in Thailand in November 2023.