Chinese SUV brand Haval launched its fifth dealer in Australia last week with the opening of its flagship store in North Lakes, 45 minutes north of the Brisbane CBD.
The first Queensland dealer joins the existing networks in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Geelong, with Haval planning to have somewhere between 20 to 25 dealers set up before the end of the year.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the dealer opening in Brisbane last week, Haval’s chief marketing officer, Tim Smith, said that 2016 is about building the Haval brand and introducing Australians to the product.
“We are targeting a national awareness campaign.” Smith told CarAdvice.
“We think it's really important for the Australian market, particularly the consumers, to get on board with this brand because we strongly believe that not only the product now but what's coming in the near future is sensational and has a real point of difference.
“We are a big fan of growing organically, unlike other OEMs who put in dealers to drive growth, we feel that if we have a real lean but equally serviceable network for consumers that our model of return on investment will always be at the forefront of what we do,” he said.
The North Lakes dealership is a unique combination of Gympie-based American truck and muscle car converter, Performax – which stocks everything from large American trucks to Corvette sports cars with Haval products.
With sales of more than 700,000 vehicles last year, Haval is China's number one SUV brand and sees markets such as Australia as an opportunity for expansion.
Australia was the first right-hand-drive market the Chinese brand entered and Smith admits that it wasn’t easy.
“[It] comes some teething problems, [but] with the cars that are coming they are more specifically targeting at more niche and focused segments in the SUV market”
Unlike Great Wall (the parent company of Haval), which was until recently distributed in Australia by Ateco automotive, Haval is a factory-backed operation and as such has joined the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and will be reporting its sales figures going forward.
Smith confirmed that Haval is expecting to sell around 3,000 cars in 2016.
“We are joining the FCAI, we will be part of the FCAI in some capacity. We are not hiding. We know things will be slow at the start - we are targeting 3000 cars this year.
“There’s no reason, other than something technically terrible going wrong with the cars, that we couldn’t achieve those [numbers]”
Haval currently has 15 full-time employees in Australia, with that number set to grow to 25 before the end of 2016.