Chinese SUV brand Haval is interested in potentially setting up a local research and development centre in Australia as part of its ambitious long-term global export strategy.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the launch of the brand’s fifth dealership last week in Brisbane, Haval’s chief marketing officer, Tim Smith, said that while the Australian dollar is doing the brand no favours, Haval is committed to its export strategy
“I would love the Australian dollar to take a serious resurgent step, so that doesn’t help, but in saying that, as the dollar does dive, the cost of things go up – but we are more committed than ever to invest in Australia,” Smith said.
“We are looking to invest in infrastructure locally. Eventually I think they (Haval headquarters) would love to see an R&D centre in Australia. Parts distributed by the OEM and offices owned by the company.”
Australia is the first right-hand-drive market for China’s largest SUV brand, but acts as a pillar of ambition for its global export strategy, with the brand targeting 20-25 dealers by this year’s end with around 3000 sales.
Haval’s pricing has been relatively close to its Korean and Japanese counterparts but Smith claims that it is all part of a learning exercise for the brand.
“People may think it’s premium [price] without brand recognition, [but] we are strongly committed to understanding the market and the Chinese are very keen to learn – and they learn very quickly.”
Smith says that Haval is very much interested in doing things the way they work best for the local market.
“Chinese are huge in letting locals manage it with strong support from a Chinese perspective. Obviously there’s a cultural and language barrier but we’ve been around here long enough to understand and know how things work, and how we should report information up and down, and they are very supportive of what we are trying to achieve.
“They are supportive of the local markets and trying to understand what works in a local sense rather than trying to bring China to Australia,” he added.
Haval is expected to release new offers in the next few weeks that Smith says will show “that we are a serious contender and we want to entice and bring customers in not only to see how good our product is, but what good value they are.”