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by Tim Beissmann

Chinese SUV manufacturer Haval has confirmed its intentions to enter the Australian market in the final quarter of this year after its initial plans to launch in June hit a snag.

Haval Australia issued a statement overnight confirming that the brand would begin selling cars on our shores during the fourth quarter of the year.

The statement revealed Haval Australia has signed up four dealers and is on track to have a national network of 10 dealers by the end of 2015.

The official announcement follows CarAdvice’s exclusive report last month that revealed the fledgling Chinese brand had been forced to push back its local launch plans to the end of the year.

Haval has been silent over the past few months, though announced in the statement that “the lack of communication is a result of how hard we’ve been working to get the Haval brand up and running is Australia”, and emphasised the enormity of the task of building a brand from scratch in a new market.

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Haval originally announced in April plans to launch in Australia in June with the sub-compact H2 and the full-size H9 SUVs. The large H8 was set to join them in July, with the mid-sized H6 Coupe and the slightly larger H7 scheduled for 2016.

The company, which is the top-selling SUV maker in China and a division of Great Wall Motors, was aiming to have between 10 and 20 dealers operating across the country by the end of this year, and planned to expand its network in 2016 and beyond.

Despite the setbacks, it appears Haval is now taking the required steps forward to become a fully fledged brand. Around two weeks ago, the H2 joined the H8 and H9 in receiving local certification, being deemed to comply with Australian Design Rules, according to official government documents.

The H2 is a Nissan Qashqai-sized compact crossover that will be offered with a 105kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and will be available with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions and in front- and all-wheel drive. It’s tipped to be priced from the low-$20,000s.

The H8 is a rival for the likes of the Ford Territory and Hyundai Santa Fe. The large, five-seat SUV will team a 155kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with a six-speed automatic transmission, and will be offered in both rear- and all-wheel-drive layouts. Pricing should start in the low-$40,000s.

The H9 is a rugged, seven-seat 4WD to rival the Toyota Prado. It will get the same powertrain as the H8, but will be offered exclusively with four-wheel drive. It’s set to cost from around $45,000.

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Haval’s Chinese parent company has big hopes for the Australian division. At the Shanghai motor show in April, Great Wall Motors global general manager Wang Fengying told media the company has a long-term goal of selling more SUVs in Australia than any other company.

The brand also announced a number of other commitments for Australia in April, targeting five-star ANCAP safety ratings for every model, planning to offer a five-year warranty and capped-price servicing as part of its aftersales program, and the development of a local suspension tuning program to fine-tune its models to suit local driving conditions and preferences.

CarAdvice will keep you updated with news on Haval as it comes to hand.




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