Haval, the luxury arm of Great Wall Motors, recently launched its updated H9 SUV in Australia. Here the brand shared its plans to build a full-size hybrid bakkie by 2022 with the attending journalists.
According to Motoring, the electrified model (the first of its kind in Australia) will be aiming to compete with the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux. This idea may seem laughable here in South Africa where understandably there has been a slow uptake in hybrid and electric vehicles and the Hilux and Ranger are well-entrenched staples of the bakkie buying market.
However in Australia the picture looks very different when it comes to EVs, with over one hundred public charging stations across the country and vehicles like the Tesla Model X, which we recently drove Down Under, par for the course. Perhaps a hybid bakkie will stand a chance in taking on the dominant market forces of Toyota and Ford on that continent? We doubt it but, only time will tell.
Australia has a formidable network of public charging stations.
South Africa has under 20 public electric vehicle charging points.
Haval’s head of marketing, Tim Smith, indicated the light commercial vehicle will be of body-on-frame construction. Details of the new bakkie were divulged in a PowerPoint presentation including the plan to make use of all-new platform – there is speculation that it could share its underpinnings with the next-generation H9.
The new hybrid promises a “3000kg towing capacity, the choice of two and four-wheel drive, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and safety equipment including autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.”
It’s expected that the bakkie with gain the H9’s six-mode All-Terrain Control System (ATCS) off-road system, high ground clearance (perhaps even a bit more than the H9’s 206mm) and 700mm wading depth.
However the model range won’t be exclusively hybrid, as Smith said that the model will likely be diesel-powered with the hybrid powerplant an optional part of the model line-up.
“The company isn’t sure if it should be badged as a Haval or [a] Great Wall,” Smith said, despite the teaser image wearing a Great Wall badge on the grille.
“We’d suggest the former.”
At this point the image looks more like the Hyundai Santa Cruz lifestyle bakkie than a serious off-roader, but the initial sketch is likely to undergo some changes and although it wasn’t specified, we’d imagine that there would be a double-cab option.
Smith also said that the bakkie will benefit from ‘Australianised tuning’, in the same manner as the H9.
Haval has collaborated with Australian suspension specialists Ironman 4×4 to develop heavier springs, upgrading the shock absorber valving and adjusting toe-in to improve the model’s ride and handling based on buyer feedback.