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Little-known now, but a big future for Great Wall

By CECILY LIU | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-30 09:14

However, because the Great Wall Steed's initial towing capacity became a challenge to sell to many farm owners, being difficult to tow livestock with it, Hegarty's team decided to target the shooting market.

"A lot of our customers are either employed full time in the shooting industry or they have a weekday job elsewhere and do shooting as a hobby at the weekend," he says.

Hegarty's team invested in events and brands highly regarded by the shooting community, such as Real Tree, a US company that makes camouflage apparel, and Team Wild TV, an outdoor sports channel that promotes shooting.

Ian Harford, a Team Wild TV celebrity, conducted a hunting test in South Africa in the Great Wall Steed, which helped establish the car's credibility in the minds of the shooting community.

"They saw it being tried and tested by him in harsh environments. So people thought, ‘If it's good enough for him, then it's good enough for me'," Hegarty says.

Hegarty admits customers initially had concerns about the vehicle's quality following its launch because so few Chinese cars are available in Europe.

However, the low expectations meant that many customers were surprised and impressed when shown the car.

"When they see the car, they say, ‘This is a very good car. It's just like anyone else's pickup.' Whatever expectations they had for a Chinese car, the Great Wall Steed exceeded it," he says.

"We have heard so many times that the car is much better than they thought it would be."

Now that the Steed has been around in the UK and Ireland for more than a year, Hegarty's team is seeing customers buying a second one.

Some customers need more than one pickup truck to suit their business needs and, after they have tested the Steed, they trust it enough to add another.

Although Great Wall has yet to put the Steed through the EuroNCAP crash test, Hegarty says this has not affected sales. "On the pickup that's OK, because it's not what people ask for as the No 1 question. But on passenger cars, yes, because it's something people do ask if they are buying a family car," he says.

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