A GWM Haval SUV not sold in Australia has been spied in Melbourne, though it’s not yet clear why it’s here.

    Pictured on the back of the car-carrying truck is the Haval Chitu – also known as the Haval Red Rabbit – which is similar in size to the brand’s existing Jolion SUV.

    In China, the Haval Chitu measures 4470mm long, 1898mm wide, and 1625mm tall on a 2700mm wheelbase – making it 2mm shorter, 57mm wider and 49mm taller than the Jolion, while sharing an identical wheelbase.

    Like the Haval Jolion, power comes from a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, producing up to 135kW and 275Nm in the Chitu – 5kW and 5Nm more than the Jolion S.

    There is also a Haval Chitu hybrid in China, adopting an identical powertrain to the Jolion hybrid sold in Australia, which pairs a 110kW/220Nm petrol engine with an electric motor and 1.7kWh battery, developing 139kW and 375Nm combined.

    A spokesperson for GWM Haval Australia provided background on why the Chitu is here, but could not confirm plans for a local launch.

    “It’s quite common for the local team here to import models available in overseas markets for evaluation purposes and to consider whether they might be a good fit for the Australian and New Zealand markets,” said the spokesperson.

    “The Red Rabbit that has been seen recently in Melbourne is also here for evaluation purposes, however, there’s no confirmation at this stage on whether it will join the local GWM lineup.”

    Curiously, the Chitu launched in 2021, the same year Jolion production for the Chinese market ended, though the former was intended as a replacement to the Haval F5 SUV that was never sold in Australia.

    It then leaves a question mark over why the Haval Chitu has been spotted in Australia, given its closeness to the Jolion which only made its local debut in early 2021 – itself replacing the H2 as the brand’s entry-level SUV.

    If the Haval Chitu is sold in Australia, it will bolster the brand’s presence in the small SUV segment. This is currently dominated by the MG ZS family, of which 29,258 were sold locally in 2023.

    By contrast, there were 11,252 Haval Jolions sold in Australia last year, putting it behind the MG ZS and Mazda CX-30 in the local small SUV market.

    As reported by CarExpert in July last year, GWM Haval is expected to add the larger Xiaolong Max to its model lineup, though this will likely only come with hybrid power and rival the Toyota RAV4.

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    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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