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Great Wall: Steed is first major Chinese model to be sold in UK but more will follow, including an SUV and a family car


Robin Roberts

It’s the biggest ever Chinese take-away.

Great Wall launched its Steed pick up at the CV Show in the NEC as the first customers in Britain hit the road with their high specified double cabs from £13,998.

For that, the entry S model comes with leather upholstery, heated front seats and BlueTooth connectivity as part of a comprehensive entertainment package, while the £15,998 SE gains a hard-top canopy , chrome effect detailing, body coloured  spoiler and  protective loadbed liner.

Only the trim levels differ as the Steed comes with a single mechanical specification of double cab, 4×4 transmission and a 143ps 2.0 diesel four cylinder engine mated with a six-speed manual gearbox incorporating low and high range boxes with shift on the move electronic controls and offering between 30 and 37mpg. It carries just over 1 tonne and will tow 2 tonnes.

Insurance groups are 7A and 8A respectively and Great Wall is promising a committed dealership network of 40 outlets so far who will “go the extra mile” to provide test drives up to 20 miles from a showroom. Steed comes with a 3yr or 60,000 miles warranty.

Great Wall’s UK importers are the IM Group, which also sells Isuzu but has previously handled SsangYong and Hyundai, and the Chinese marque’s UK MD, Paul Hegarty, was bullish for its future.

“Great Wall is the first major Chinese brand to come to Britain and you only get one opportunity to be the first at anything and we want to do it right,” said Mr Hegarty, adding, “ Great Wall has a motto to improve little by little every day and this is what we will be doing.”

Great Wall is the biggest pick up seller in  China and has been building automobiles since 1976, and also sells SUV and family cars, which it wants to introduce to Britain over the next few years as its strives to pass 2 million models of all types by 2015. It sells to South Africa, Australia and Italy.

It has invested £500 Million in R&D in China and recently opened a vehicle assembly plant in the port city of Tianjin which covers the same land area as Leamington Spa and Warwick combined at over 5,500 acres.

Mr Hegarty would not be drawn on how many Steed models they anticipate selling in the UK over the next  12 months but said they had plenty of stock imported at Sheerness and would be able to meet demand.

He said the growth of Great Wall in the UK would be organic and driven by customers and would not be forced or  pushed by the importer or dealers, “We want to offer unrivalled value and service in the market and to stand out from our competitors with a pick up which is cheaper than the rest but comes with more equipment than some of the dearest costing a lot more than the  Steed.”

Dealers have shown interest from many sectors of the trade, from used car operations, to existing pick up sales businesses and even more mainstream dealers, said Mr Hegarty. He said the brand was quite well covered in Britain but there were still a few gaps in urban areas and along the M40 and the ideal number in the UK would be about 50 outlets.

Without any track record its going to be difficult to calculate used values in a few years, but you can see how rivals match up if you check out their performance in our business van comparison or company van comparison charts.

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