Haval says it wants to be Australia's number one SUV brand

Haval H8

CHINESE SUV brand Haval will launch in Australia on 1 June and wants to be the top selling SUV brand in the country.

Its slogan in its home market is “No.1 SUV brand in China”, and that will remain in its Australian marketing material, where it hope to replicate the success.

“This is our aim long-term," said Haval chief executive Madam Wong told Wheels at the 2015 Shanghai motor show. "We were attracted to Australia because it is a one-million vehicle market, and the SUV sales make up 300,000, so it's a very good market.”

The Haval brand is essentially the SUV arm of Great Wall Motors, and boasts the best-selling SUV in China – the Haval H6 - which easily outsold the heavyweights in its home market including the VW Tiguan, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Qashqai. Adding to the feat is that Haval isn't state-owned like a large number of its Chinese rivals.

Haval has based its Australian HQ in Mount Waverly,  south-east of Melbourne, and will introduce four models over the next 12 months, with two models offered immediately from its 1 June launch date.

The first is the entry-level H2 priced in the low $20,000 range to take on the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. It will be powered by a 120kW 1.5-litre turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine paired with a  six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The other model available from day one will be the H9, a Nissan X-Trail-sized SUV built on a ladder chassis and equipped with all-wheel drive. It's expected to be price in the low $50,000 range.

Following these will be the H6 Coupe, launched at Shanghai, but because it is not a coupe it's likely to simply be badged 'H6' for Australia. With a choice of 2.0-litre turbo petrol and turbo-diesel engines, it will pitch against the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai ix35 when it arrives in November.

A fourth model, the H8, is a rival to the likes of the Ford Edge and forthcoming Hyundai Tucson and will arrive in early 2016.

All models will be offered with all-wheel drive, and high-end features such as heated seats, puddle lamps and Germanic styling outside and in.

"We're a premium SUV manufacturer," said Haval Australia spokesman Tim Smith. "We like to think of it as affordable luxury."

Haval will be operated and marketed separately to Great Wall in Australia. Ateco Automotive, Great Wall’s distributor in Australia, has had to tackle declining sales, poor resale values, recalls and now tension between the local importer and China HQ since the brand’s launch here in 2009.

Haval currently has around 200 cars on the ground in Australia and is developing its local dealer network independently of Great Wall. It's expected to announce between 10 and 20 dealers at the official brand launch.

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