That the first impression of a brand has a significant bearing on its perception in the marketplace is a notion which is widely accepted. And if that were actually true, then carmaker Great Wall Motors (GWM) has just jump-started its India journey with a phenomenal outing at Auto Expo 2020. With its complete range of products and technologies on display, the automotive Goliath turned out to be one of the major showstoppers at the biennial motor show. It not only used the platform to showcase its expansive portfolio, but also revealed its grand plans for our market, and introduced two of its brands, which will see a market launch sometime in 2021.
GWM, which first started operations in 1984, is headquartered in Baoding, about 150km south of Beijing. Today, it is ranked as one of China’s most valuable companies and is the largest SUV maker in the country. It already has a presence in Russia, Australia, South Africa, South America and the Middle East, and the company is gearing up to enter the Indian market.
Phil Simmons, Design VP, GWM; Kaushik Ganguly, Director - Product Planning & Strategy ; Hardeep Singh Brar, Director, Sales & Marketing, for the Indian subsidiary of GWM, and Ramon Ginah, Design Director, Haval Design Studio.
Commenting on the company’s India prospects, Hardeep Singh Brar, Director, Sales and Marketing for the Indian subsidiary of GWM, said at the Auto Expo, “India has become one of the world’s fastest growing major economies, and the auto market is promising, making it a preferred investment destination for most auto companies. At this 15th edition of the Auto Expo, we are introducing our global intelligent SUV expert brand – Haval – and plan to cover the complete range of SUVs, which will be the preferred choice of the young, dynamic and new-generation consumers of India.”
The automaker has a stable of four brands - GWM EV (for electric vehicles), Haval and Wey (for SUVs), and GWM Pickup (for pickup trucks); it is the former two that broke cover at India’s premier motor show. With SUVs and electric vehicles being the current buzzwords in our market, the Chinese company has decided to build on the momentum and leverage the strengths of Haval and GWM EV for spearheading its way into the challenging, yet rewarding, Indian auto industry.
GWM intends to launch a complete range of SUVs from Haval that will cover all segments and appeal especially to the youth who are driving market growth. Numerous products under the GWM EV banner will also be introduced to realise the shift to a more sustainable future. With a range of strong products placed right in the heart of the market, GWM will be uniquely positioned to tap into its vast potential, making it the brand to watch out for in the coming years.
In terms of its business roadmap, the Chinese major plans to invest a whopping USD 1 billion (about Rs 7,000 crore) in India in a phased manner across different verticals including R&D, vehicle manufacturing and component manufacturing. The company will also invest in battery research and development, and manufacturing in India to promote the country as a hub for electrified technologies. Consequently, its India operations will help in the generation of around 3,000 direct employment opportunities.
Earlier this year, GWM inked an agreement with General Motors to acquire the latter’s Talegaon production facility to begin its India innings. The acquisition will be complete in the second-half of 2020, just in time for product rollout the year after.
GWM made big of its first opportunity to interact with potential customers at the Auto Expo, by having a comprehensive line-up of its portfolio on display. In addition to its production-spec models, the firm wowed the crowds by revealing two striking concept vehicles. These included the world premiere of the Haval Concept H and the India debut of the Vision 2025 EV. GWM also highlighted its push towards innovation and intelligence through numerous sessions at its pavilion, which attracted hoards of curious visitors.
In anticipation of its market launch in 2021, the company gave the eagerly awaiting attendees a taste of its vast global product range.
First up was the contemporary and capable Haval F5. The almost 4.5m-long SUV comes off as a perfect blend of good looks and technology. A 124kW (168hp), 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), means that an exhilarating drive is a certainty every time one takes to the wheel. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 9.0-inch touchscreen, intelligent voice commands and remote control functions from a smartphone app are just some of the features on offer. Safety is covered by six airbags, ABS, hill-hold control and hill-descent control, among others.
Haval F7 and F7x
The F7 was probably one of GWM’s most significant displays at the Expo. The SUV, which has registered sales of 1,40,770 units within a year of its launch in China, is positioned as an artificial intelligence (AI) connected vehicle. It also happens to be the first marque product to reflect Haval’s shift to a global design language and diversified product style. Measuring in at a smidgen over 4.6m, the SUV is powered by a pair of turbo-petrol engines – a 124kW (168hp), 1.5-litre unit and a 165kW (224hp), 2.0-litre mill – mated to a 7-speed DCT. Those looking for a sportier setup found the F7x to be up their alley, what with its dynamic fastback styling and SUV-coupe bodystyle.
The full-size, three-row Haval H9 proved to be the centre of attraction on the show floor for people who like their SUVs with massive road presence. Essentially an all-terrain SUV, the H9 blends true off-road prowess with a luxurious cabin and desirable features, including differential locks and off-road cruise control. Under the hood lies a 165kW (224hp), 2.0-litre turbo-petrol motor with an 8-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive system.
GWM ev R1 and iQ
GWM EV R1
The future is electric and in an effort to drive the point home, GWM EV had two of its most prominent models on display. The GWM EV R1 electric hatchback is the perfect urban commuter, with a 33kWh battery pack and 351km range on a single charge. Its size (under 3.5m in length) makes it suitable to dart about in city traffic, and a long wheelbase of almost 2.5m liberates copious amounts of space inside the cabin.
GWM EV iQ fastback sedan
Complementing the GWM EV R1, the company also had the iQ fastback sedan that proved to be a huge hit at its pavilion. Introducing a bodystyle uncommon in India, the model features a roofline that seamlessly flows into a coupe-like tailgate. The GWM EV iQ has a lot of go as well, which comes from a 120kW (163hp) e-motor clubbed with a 45.6kWh battery pack capable of delivering a 401km range on a single charge – enough for a week’s worth of driving for a typical Indian urban commuter.
Haval Concept H and Vision 2025
Vision 2025 EV
Headlining GWM’s massive line-up were the Concept H plug-in hybrid and Vision 2025 EV, which showcased the automaker’s future-ready capabilities. Their advanced propulsion systems, evolved driver assistance technologies and striking design drew in scores of auto enthusiasts. Both vehicles showcased GWM’s technological strength in smart, intelligent and autonomous solutions. While the Concept H was positioned as a global concept for the young and sporty at heart, Vision 2025 is a showcase of advanced technologies, including face recognition, 5G in-car infotainment and services, automated parking and advanced autonomous driving.
Based on its theme of ‘Intelligent Mobility Redefined’, GWM also had interactive sessions that highlighted its technological strengths. The EV Tech zone showcased its advanced battery, motor and electric platform engineering capabilities. Haval had an Intelligent Cockpit setup that leveraged the company’s progress in AI and IoT for seamless integration between cars and homes. An Intelligent Safety corner further highlighted GWM’s intense focus on active and passive safety technologies.
GWM’s tech zones provided a glimpse into the future of the automobile.
Great Wall Motors’ first outing in India received an overwhelmingly positive response and proved that the company has the go to match the show. It’s just a short wait before we get to experience the true power of the colossus.