China’s best-selling SUV maker Great Wall Motors is overhauling itself amid a changing automobile industry and aims to become a global technology-driven mobility company.
On Monday, the company headquartered in Baoding, Hebei province, announced the decision to speed up its transition and unveiled two vehicle platforms and a smart system.
The decision came as part of a solution to the question its founder and chairman Wei Jianjun asked when the company celebrated its 30th anniversary last week: “Can we survive through the next year? The chance is slim, in my opinion.”
Wei, 56, attributes the company’s achievements mainly to China’s reform and opening-up policy and the steady economic situation in the country. With a unique sense of urgency and risks, he has been closely watching the changes in the industry and making preparations.
Coded Lemon and Tank, the two modular vehicle platforms are the results of five years of development and an investment of over 20 billion yuan ($2.86 billion), said Wei, who has been advocating “appropriately undue investment in research and development”.
Lemon is flexible and scalable, spanning sub-compact to full-size vehicle bodies and variants of SUVs, sedans and MPVs. It also covers four powertrains: internal combustion engines, hybrids, electric and fuel-cell vehicles.
The company said Lemon engines will have a heat efficiency of 51.5 percent in 2025 and second-generation fuel-cell powertrains will enable vehicles on the Lemon platform to run for 1,100 kilometers.
Tank is a platform for off-road vehicles. It will feature 2 and 3-liter turbocharged engines and a vertically deployed nine-speed automatic gearbox, which is also China’s first.
The 3-liter engine produces a maximum output of 260 kilowatts and a top torque of 500 Newton meters, with a heat efficiency rate of 38 percent, the best in its segment.
The third brand is coded Smart Coffee. Great Wall Motors said it covers autonomous driving, electrical systems, and smart cabins. It is compatible with the Ethernet, 5G and vehicle-to-everything technology.
Based on the smart system, Level 3 autonomous driving will start to work from 2021 and will grow into Level 4 and above.
Great Wall Motors said more than 50 test vehicles have conducted road trips passing 1 million km.
The company calls the Smart Coffee brand the “digital engine” of its transition to a global mobility company. The first model to feature the system will be a Wey model, Great Wall Motor’s upscale marque.
Wei added that Great Wall Motors will release a new human resources plan and other programs in August to attract more professionals and speed up the transition.