GWM Australia looks set to put the leash on one of its most anticipated models – the Haval Big Dog.
Widely earmarked to join GWM’s Australian line-up at some point next year, the Big Dog medium SUV has the rugged, boxy look of a genuine off-roader, but without the capability offered by models that fall under GWM’s Tank 4×4 brand.
Despite bringing examples out here for internal assessment, and for local media to pore over, it now looks as though the Big Dog can’t be rescued.
According to GWM Australia head of marketing, Steve Maciver, the shared underpinnings of the Big Dog and the Haval H6 medium SUV makes the former much harder to justify.
“The Big Dog has been something that was under consideration, and still is to a certain degree. But the challenge we have with the current Big Dog is essentially, it’s the same technology under the skin as the H6. Now, we’ve got to think about ensuring complexity. We’ve got to think about customer choice, that type of thing, and whether we feel there’s a need for another medium SUV in our line-up at this stage.
“So, while we haven’t made a final decision as yet, we’re probably not 100 per cent on the need for that car right now. Again, moving forward as new generations of that car come through, who knows?”
The Big Dog – which was reported to be called Dargo in Australia – is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivering 155kW/325Nm to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
GWM’s Tank brand, which is expected to be offered here from 2023, is a more off-road focused offering, with the 300 medium SUV and 500 large SUV appealing to different buyers.
People who are looking at something like a Jeep Wrangler, Toyota Prado, Ford Everest or Isuzu MU-X are likely to be drawn to the Tank models. The Tank 500 serves as a replacement of sorts for the Haval H9 4×4 SUV that was dropped from the line-up last year.
The Haval Big Dog on the other hand is underpinned by GWM’s Lemon platform that is also used for the Haval H6, H6 GT and the smaller Jolion.
Mr Maciver says the potential addition of the Tank SUV and Ora electric car brands to the GWM portfolio in Australia won’t add too much complexity, adding that the brands will be well defined to avoid confusion.
“Ultimately if and when Ora and Tank come in, they’re going to be marketed under GWM exactly the same way that we do with Ute and with Haval SUV today. I think there’s a place for all those products in market, each has their own individual use and perhaps segment,” he said.
“Tank is very, very different to Haval SUV. And the Tank is a very, very capable luxury or professional off-road brand, whereas Haval SUV is perhaps more your mainstream family SUV, for want of a better term. We know that Ute has its place, and then Ora as a dedicated EV brand is something different again. So, we think we can manage it.
“Obviously we’re going to have to be very smart in our communications, our marketing to make sure that we are clear on exactly what each of these model series means, and how they fit together under that GWM master brand. But we think there’s a way we can do it, and that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
GWM Australia is yet to make any official announcements about Tank or Ora, but CarsGuide believes these models will start to roll into showrooms next year.
One sub-brand that GWM is not looking at adding to the local roster is semi-premium marque, Wey, with Mr Maciver citing the investment in the Haval brand as the key reason.
“Wey’s not under consideration for us at this stage. Wey has just been launched into Europe, along with Ora, but they don’t have Haval SUV across there. For example, we do. We think there’s probably, at this stage, a little bit too much crossover between Wey and Haval. Given the investment and given the equity that we’ve got in Haval, given how well that’s going, that will continue to be our core SUV range.”
The Wey name is an homage to Great Wall Motors chairman Wei Jianjun, and there are currently three coffee-themed models – the Latte, Mocha and Macchiato.