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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

Hegarty says his team hopes to expand Great Wall's dealership network, but not so fast as to compromise quality.

He says the ideal Great Wall dealer is a private operator with one or two stores, who is not already selling pickup trucks from Great Wall's competitors.

"We take a very personal hands-on approach in recruiting dealers," Hegarty says. "That's because we don't just want Great Wall to succeed today or tomorrow, but for the long term. We don't want to be in a situation of changing the dealers."

Great Wall, founded in Baoding, Hebei province, in 1976, has been China's largest automotive exporter in volume and revenue since 1998.

With a sales network covering more than 100 countries, Great Wall sold 85,000 vehicles abroad last year, a 50 percent increase from 2010. Its key export markets include North and South America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Australia, Russia and Italy.

Hegarty says he is excited to work with Great Wall on its journey to become established internationally.

"At the moment, China has a lot of demand for cars, but when the time comes for capacity to outstrip demand, Chinese manufacturers will come to Europe," Hegarty says.

He feels confident Chinese cars will one day follow the path of Japanese and Korean manufacturers in becoming trusted and liked by European customers — but the journey will be a lot shorter.

The British market has become increasingly popular with Chinese carmakers in recent years.

SAIC Motor Corp Ltd of Shanghai bought the intellectual property of MG Rover in 2005 and has since launched the MG6 and MG3 on the UK market. The company designs and assembles cars at MG's old plant in Birmingham.

Hangzhou-based Geely Holding Group Co Ltd has also gained a foothold in the European automotive industry through acquiring Swedish carmaker AB Volvo in 2010 and the London taxicab maker Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc earlier this year.

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