According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, Chinese electric vehicle startup Great Wall Motor plans on launching a new standalone brand for electric and smart vehicles in China, as it tries to pursue growth in this burgeoning segment.
Inspired by U.S. technology and auto giant Tesla Inc, several Chinese automakers have announced plans for new electric vehicle brands, which are more expensive than their mass-market peers.
Meanwhile Chinese conventional automakers including Changan Automobile, SAIC Motor, and GAC are trying to move their products up the value chain even as China’s communist party planners push new technologies.
Great Wall aims to launch a new standalone brand, internally coded as “SL project”, for electric and smart vehicles; it will be priced higher than existing products, said two sources on the condition of anonymity.
The new brand will include sport utility vehicles (SUV) and sedans, which will be battery electric vehicles or extended range electric vehicles that allow drivers to charge their cars with electricity or gasoline.
When asked to elaborate on the plans, a spokesman for Great Wall said “the big tide has come, we will join the game,” without elaborating.
Great Wall is currently building an EV factory with BMW in China.
To better compete with rival Geely, Great Wall has added a P-series pickup truck as well as off-road SUV models to its range. It sold 1 million vehicles in the first 11 months.
With this new brand, Great Wall is once again trying to crack the premium segment. In 2016, it launched the WEY brand with upscale models; it however has struggled to generate sales.