Great Wall proudly launched their all new Great Wall H8 earlier today at the Guangzhou Auto Show with a price tag of 201,800RMB to 236,800RMB with a spread of four models powered by a 2.0T engine with both front pullers and All Wheel Drive being made available.
The 2.0T is Great Wall’s own design and is no shrinking violet as we’ve seen from other China made turbo engines where they are low on BHP and high on marketing points that fail to deliver (here’s looking at you, 130bhp MG5 Turbo). GWM’s 2.0T produces 218bhp and 324Nm of torque which is sent through a six speed automatic gearbox, there is no manual option on the H8 as of yet.
The H8 price tag puts the car fair and square in the realm of international SUV’s that are produced by joint venture brands within China, for example the 1.8T VW Tiguan falls into the H8′s price segment, as does the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CRV, both of which are regularly in the Top Ten SUV sales chart and measure in at the same size as the H8.
Further down the Haval range is the best selling H6 which is powered by the choice of a 1.5T, 2.0L or 2.4L engines, a top specification H6 tops out at 151,800RMB leaving a 60,000RMB price jump to the H8 and basically zero overlap. GWM dealers are reportedly already concerned about the high pricing of the H8 and are quite rightly worried about the forth coming full size H9 which will launch next year.
Whilst Great Wall has improved considerably over the past six years with considerable upgrades in its product lines, technology and car designs, one cannot help but feel that Great Wall is possibly over stretching itself with the introduction of the H8. The H8 is a true gamble to see if Great Walls branding and quality has risen to the point where middle class Chinese consumers that would traditionally opt for an international brand move to buy a Chinese one, even one that is offering high levels of technology and superior space?
Other brands have launched in China with a top down approach by selling cars at a high price and then bringing in lower priced cars, Shanghai Auto’s Roewe proved it possible with the Roewe 750 in 2006 and Taiwan’s Luxgen did the same with the Luxgen7 SUV which launched at around 250,000RMB, but Great Wall is going the other way, from weak to strong. Another point of note is that as China’s RMB appreciates against the dollar Chinese manufacturer loose their competitive low cost edge against global competition in developing markets where Chinese cars are well received. Would a budding Iraqi businessman buy the $40,000USD Haval H8, or would he opt for the $45,000USD Toyota Prado? Time will tell for both international and domestic markets.