Great Wall plans U.S. r&d center to scout market
Murtaugh: Creating an EV “portfolio”
BEIJING -- Great Wall Motor Co., China's biggest seller of SUVs and pickups, plans to build an r&d center in the United States to study the market and position itself to sell cars there, a Great Wall executive said last week.
"Our global strategy will certainly include the United States, though it is a market that has the most stringent regulations," Liu Zhen, deputy manager of Great Wall's international trade division, said in a speech at the Automotive News China Conference.
Zhen declined to provide details on the location of the facility but said that "over the next couple of years" Great Wall will hire engineers in the United States to research the market.
Although he gave no target date for U.S. sales, Zhen said Great Wall wants to avoid the early mistakes of Japanese and Korean automakers.
"It took the Japanese and Koreans one or two generations of products to understand the U.S. market," he said. "We don't want to spend that much time, but we will be extremely careful" to avoid making mistakes.
"We need to be very cautious with each and every step," Zhen said.
Great Wall now sells vehicles in more than 100 markets, Zhen said, including Australia, Africa and parts of Europe.
Last week, Coda Automotive, a Los Angeles startup electric vehicle maker, announced plans to co-develop an EV with Great Wall that will go on sale in the second quarter of 2014.
The companies signed a letter of intent last year to develop EVs jointly.
The deal gives Coda access to Great Wall's vehicle portfolio and the Chinese vehicle market. Great Wall gets a partner to provide electric propulsion systems, including battery packs, energy management systems and drivetrain technology.
"The goal of this business alliance is to develop a portfolio of affordable EVs that will be distributed in all global EV markets -- North America, China and Europe," said Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh.
Murtaugh declined to say whether the vehicle would be a car or a crossover, but said it would be based on a Great Wall vehicle. The vehicle will be branded as a Coda in the United States and as a Great Wall in China. He said the company has not decided branding for Europe.
You can reach Jason Stein at email@example.com. -- Follow Jason on