China's Great Wall Motors is returning to Europe with a new premium strategy after failing to win over customers for budget vehicles.
Great Wall Europe launched a plug-in hybrid under the premium Wey brand and a more youth-focused electric small car from its Ora brand at the Munich IAA auto show on Monday.
The launch country for Wey will be Germany, followed by either Italy or Spain, then a Europewide rollout, Johnson Qiang, Great Wall's executive vice president for Europe, told Automotive News Europe on the eve of the show.
Qiang said Germany was chosen because it is Europe's largest vehicle market and because Wey wants to establish itself as a premium automotive brand. To do that it needs to compete against powerhouses such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
"We have confidence in the product," he said.
Qiang said Ora will debut in one of Europe's five largest markets -- Germany, the U.K., France, Italy and Spain -- or in one of the Nordic countries, which include EV-friendly Norway as well as Sweden, Finland and Denmark. He declined to say which market would lead the way.
First deliveries for both brands will start next year.
Difficult first attempt
Great Wall briefly produced vehicles in Europe after it opened a factory in Bulgaria in 2012 to assemble SUVs, pickups and city cars. The plant closed in 2017.
The company's strategy in Europe this time is to move away from budget models and instead target customers who might pay more for increased levels of technology.