Haval set to plug into emergent EV scene

Expect to see some Chinese electric cars here within a few years.


A Chinese car brand that only established in New Zealand last year, with six dealers and just 92 sales to date is setting up to become part of the electric car revolution here.

Haval, which for now specialises in sports utilities but with huge success – it’s the biggest SUV player in its home market -  is about to spend big on hybrid, PHEV and electric cars and New Zealand will have some of these within four years, a spokesman suggested today.

As such, it will likely be the first Chinese brand in a growing sector that is presently served by European, Japanese and a sole American marque (Tesla) and is more dominated by pre-owned used import product than NZ-new.

It is not yet clear if the Haval product will be marketed under the main badge, or instead represent behind a new sub-brand, Ora, that has been launched in China.

Ora will sell battery electric cars only; it’s not clear how much of their technology will be developed wholly in China. Haval has recently signed a technology agreement with BMW, whose EV programme is world-leading.

Haval presently has no electric-supported drivetrains, but is under pressure to develop these, because China is on a fast-track to weaning off fossil-fuelled cars, spurred by its significant air pollution issues.

As Haval reads it, the Chinese government wants carbon fuel-reliant vehicles off its roads by 2030.

Andrew Ellis, a spokesman for Haval here and in Australia, says this suggests the China might lead the world for a swing to EV cars.

He’s keen for New Zealand, one of just four right-hand-drive markets that Haval services (the others being Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh), to do its bit.

The intent is that about 30 per cent of its sales here will be alternative-fuel vehicles by just 2022.

Those products will include a hybrid version of the H9 (pictured), the brand’s flagship SUV, a seven-seater that has just released here in pure petrol format, with a 180kW/350Nm two litre four-cylinder.

The EV, PHEV and hybrid take-up prediction for New Zealand matches that for Australia, where the local distributor is based, but Ellis says no-one will be surprised if Kiwis prove more eager to adopt the vehicles than the Aussies.

“Australia’s adoption of EVs is appallingly slow, there is no incentive,” he said.

“With other countries that adopt earlier, there could be an increase.”

Ellis explains that China is spending hundreds of billions on building EV infrastructure, having been prodded into action by the government, which has degreed that from 2019 every brand in China with more than 300,000 sales will be subject to EV quotas or face fines.

China wants zero emissions by 2030, so is expected - as Haval sees it - to curtail fossil-fuelled engines by then.

Despite this impending change, Haval’s ambitions for orthodox models remain undiminished.

The company is developing a new modular architecture to underpin its next generation model line-up.

As such, it’s claiming 2020 will see the reveal of the new global H2 urban crossover, H6 mid-size SUV, H7 luxury SUV and the next gen H9, all of which will be global offerings. It is also planning a utility, which the local representatives believe might be based on the current H9 ladder-frame chassis.