SHANGHAI -- The first Chinese automaker to enter the United States -- the world's largest market for SUVs -- may well be Great Wall Motor Co., China's largest SUV producer.
The privately held automaker, one of China's top three vehicle exporters, wants to introduce its Haval SUV to the United States by 2015, says CEO Wang Fengying.
"We are in the process of implementing the plan," she told Automotive News at the Shanghai auto show.
The Haval, known as the Hover H in China, is a leading seller in that market, and Great Wall is solidly profitable. Great Wall, which is in the north China city of Baoding, makes the Haval SUV, Wingle pickup, Voleex sedan and other vehicles.
Those vehicles already have demonstrated some appeal in overseas locales such as Australia, Italy and a variety of emerging markets. Last year the company sold 500,000 vehicles, including 80,000 overseas.
But the company has yet to make some key decisions about the U.S. market, Wang said.
For example, Great Wall has yet to decide who will distribute its vehicles in the United States. "More than 10 companies have talked to us about jointly establishing a dealer network," she said.
Instead of establishing a nationwide dealership network, Great Wall will start by setting up stores in one U.S. region, Wang said. But Great Wall has yet to choose the region.
The company eventually wants to set up an assembly plant in North America, but Wang did not discuss possible locations or timetables.
Why enter a market as competitive as the United States? To survive and prosper, companies eventually must compete internationally, Wang said. "It is important for Chinese companies to go upscale, but more importantly, we must go global."