The Daily Telegraph

Great Wall backs UK to launch e-car drive

- By Howard Mustoe

ONE of China’s biggest car manufactur­ers is pushing ahead with plans to start selling its electric vehicles in Britain next month, despite sterling’s volatility putting “stress” on local operations.

Xianghua Qiao, Europe chief executive of Great Wall Motor, said the company is undaunted by recent political ructions and believes Britain will be a good long-term bet.

Mr Xianghua said it had chosen the UK “as our first entry point to the European market” because of its infrastruc­ture, charging stations and government encouragem­ent for EVS.

Great Wall Motor will launch its Funky Cat battery-powered car under its purely electric Ora brand in Britain next month after it made its debut at the Paris Motor Show this week.

The manufactur­er, based in China’s northern Hebei province, will launch only electric cars in Britain. “We believe that EVS are our future,” Mr Xianghua said. “For now we have Ora. Maybe in the future we’ll launch another of our brands or a new brand into the UK.”

As well as the electric Ora brand, Great Wall Motor makes vehicles under its Haval sports utility brand, the TANK off-road brand, and its luxury line WEY, named for Great Wall founder Jack Wey.

It joins rival BYD in a push into the UK to take advantage of high prices and fading competitio­n from US and European carmakers struggling to return to precovid production rates.

Chinese manufactur­ers are largely avoiding the supply chain issues that have held back Western rivals. Shenzhen-based BYD, which is backed by Warren Buffett, said yesterday that it expects its third-quarter profits to climb by up to 365pc to reach a record high of between 5.5bn yuan ($765m) and 5.9bn yuan.

The Funky Cat entry into the UK is a return for Great Wall Motor which first tried to take on the British market 10 years ago with its Steed pickup truck. It abandoned the expansion plans after the Steed received lacklustre reviews.

Great Wall Motor is planning expansion in France and Germany after Britain, Mr Xianghua said, and the company is also looking for places to place production in Europe, although no firm decisions have been made.

Great Wall Motor is considerin­g a new brand for the UK market as it aims to tailor cars to the tastes of European customers. Chinese cars made for the domestic market are often more passenger-focused. Chinese buyers favour entertainm­ent and roomier passenger areas over handling and driver space, which appeal more to Western buyers.

Electric cars are pricier than motors powered by fossil fuel, partly as a result of lithium prices, but Great Wall Motor is investing in reducing the lithium content in batteries as well as sodium-based batteries, sodium being cheaper and more plentiful.

Car prices have been soaring in the UK as supply has dried up. Popular models such as the Vauxhall Astra, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Fiesta are up 26pc, 25pc and 19pc on pre-pandemic prices.

 ?? ?? The Funky Cat compact EV, from Ora, was on display at this week’s Paris Motor Show
The Funky Cat compact EV, from Ora, was on display at this week’s Paris Motor Show

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom