After lots of Eastern promise over the last few years, there hasn’t, as yet been much sign of the influx of Chinese cars we have been promised. There have, of course, been hundreds of Chinese bikes, and Bikesure has been offering Chinese Scooter Insurance for years, but cars have been distinctly thin on the ground.
Now, though, there has been confirmation that at least one Chinese marque has secured a distributor. Great Wall have confirmed that they have done a deal with independent distributors IM Group, who also look after the smaller Japanese brands Isuzu, Daihatsu and Subaru. Cars will be on sale in the UK from 2011.
So what can we expect from the Great Wall range? Well up to now they have been best known for trucks, but they caused quite a splash at the Shanghai motor show. A big failing up to now with Chinese cars is that few have reached the exacting safety and emissions standards now demanded in the EU, but Great Wall are confident that their 6 launch models (well 5 plus a 4×4 version of 1) will secure type approval.
First up is the Great Wall Peri, which has an engine from Mitsubishi, looks suspiciously like a Fiat Panda, and also comes in a 4×4 variant! In fact, that is going to be the main problem, as Fiat have currently secured an injunction preventing its import into the EU…
Then there is the i7, aka Great Wall Phenom. Apparently they couldn’t decide whether to name it after an Intel or AMD processor! These have engines developed in house and are being positioned at a higher price point making it a ‘sort of premium’ hatch.
The Xuan Li, or Great Wall Florid, is another smallish hatchback. Apparently the name in Chinese sounds confusingly similar to ‘Yaris,’ and by a huge coincidence the front end styling appears remarkably similar to that of a Toyota Yaris, which has led to further legal issues!
The Great Wall Cowry is a compact MPV fitted with a 2 litre Mitsubishi engine. There are three trim levels, the highest of which – Super Luxury – is equipped with a KARAOKE PLAYER! Again some have detected styling influence from the Toyota Scion Xb.
The final model is another MPV which looks even more like the aforementioned Scion, the mystifyingly named Great Wall Cool Bear. This spacious model with its angular design is likely to abstract sales from the Kia Soul and Nissan Cube, especially as the price could be lower than £9,000.
In short there are still obstacles to overcome, mostly to do with intellectual property, but if these can be surmounted, the Chinese car could take off in a big way. In the absence of a dealer network, you’d be a brave soul to import a Chinese car privately, but if you do, you can count on Adrian Flux to offer competitive import chinese car insurance.