Great Wall gears up for own-brand car

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 August, 2007, 12:00am

Great Wall Motor, the mainland's largest maker of sports utility vehicles (SUVs), will introduce its first self-branded passenger car in October to cement its position in the fast-growing domestic market.

The Hebei-based company plans to sell about 200,000 passenger cars and, later, minivans by 2009.

'We're going to invest 2.9 billion yuan to develop the passenger car project from now to 2010.' said deputy general manager Bai Xuefei.

Great Wall Motor originally planned to launch its first self-branded car, the Perey, this month. Mr Bai said more research and development work was needed. The name of the car in Putonghua is Jingling which means smart. The company did not disclose the proposed sale price.

Mainland carmakers are busy developing passenger cars for the growing market. Shanghai Automotive is already selling its Roewe, and Nanjing Automobile Group has started to produce MG Rover cars.

Passenger cars are the main growth engine of the mainland vehicle market.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, mainland car companies sold 2.29 million passenger cars in the first half, up 25.92 per cent from the same period a year earlier. Vehicles sales totalled 4.3 million units.

Great Wall expects passenger cars to constitute 50 per cent of its overall business next year, targeting 100,000 cars and 100,000 SUVs.

'Investors will watch the consumer response to the company's new passenger car,' said vehicle analyst Alex Fan from Daiwa Institute.

The company first displayed three models at the Beijing International Car Show in November last year - the Perey, Florid and Coolbear - all four-door passenger cars.

Toyota Motor complained in April that the appearance of Great Wall's Florid was similar in design to its Yaris - a new model due to be launched in the mainland this year. Toyota said it is studying whether the Florid's similarities with the Yaris breach its intellectual property rights.