Great Wall Motors has launched its new WEY brand on the Guangzhou Auto Show in China. Sales will start in April next year. WEY is a “premium SUV brand” which will sell a line of luxurious and sporty SUVs. The WEY brand will be positioned above the Haval brand to compete with the likes of Lexus, Infiniti, Lincoln, and Volvo. Very ambitious indeed. Can they pull it off? Let’s have a closer look:
The logo has is a story in itself. First the name. WEY (魏) refers to Wei Jianjun (魏建军), the founder of Great Wall Motors. Yes, he named the brand after himself and isn’t ashamed of it. We haven’t seen that in a while! Fuzzily, all the Chinese media are reporting this without any comment, like it is something very normal.
WEY does also refer, as indicated earlier, to the State of Wei (魏) (430-225 BCE), an ancient Chinese state during the Warring States Period. Great Wall’s headquarters is located in Baoding, Hebei Province, once part of the State of Wei. Mr. Wei and the State of Wei share the same name. I wonder whether we will see hefty warriors appearing in the marketing.
The pinyin of 魏 is wei, not wey. Great Wall however seems to prefer the old Wade Giles Romanization system, where 魏 is indeed wey and where Baoding becomes Paoting. Hence the word Paoting in the logo.
The pole in the logo is indeed a pole. It depicts the flagpole in front of the local government house of Baoding City, according to WEY. All very homey. The brand is for Mr. Wei and the logo for his local gov.
They had a huge Wei glass tower on the booth.
Wei will have its own dealer and distribution network. They will first start selling cars in the big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. When that is going they will roll out to smaller cities. Price of the base W01 car, more below, will start around 200.000 yuan.
And that doesn’t make it much more expensive than a Haval. The most expensive H7 costs 198.000 yuan. Price of the H8 ranges from 180.000 to 256.000 yuan, and the enormous H9 starts at 209.800 and ends at 272.800 yuan. But the W01 is smaller than all these cars, it is a premium compact after all, size wise comparable to the Haval H6 Coupe, which by the way is a premium variant of the Haval H6.
The H6 Coupe costs between 122.800 and 171.800 yuan.
The cheapest Lexus is the CT which starts st 269.000 yuan. The cheapest Volvo is the V40 which starts at 223.900 yuan.
A “Chinese Premium SUV Pioneer”.
More about the cars now!
They had three cars on the booth: the W01, W01 eAD, and the W02. The W01 is the base car, the W01 eAD is a hybrid, and the W02 is a sporty one. The W02 is 18 (eighteen) centimeters shorter than the W01. Shorter is apparently sportier. The shortness is achieved by cutting the rear overhang. The interior and dashboard are all the same.
Just now I mentioned that the H6 Coupe is also a premium kind of car, and in that sense close to the WEY idea. The H6 Coupe is based on the H6 SUV. A wheelbase comparison is revealing:
H6 Coupe: 2720.
H6: 2680. Ah! That’s the same as the W01. Coincidence? Probably not. Nowhere did Great Wall say they developed a different platform for WEY.
And it gets much better. Haval will launch its own variants of the W01 and W02 (!!!). Yes really, here they are. It is called the Haval F6, there will be a Red Label and a Blue Label, and the short version will be called F6i. Madness, crazy madness. So Great Wall creates a luxury brand that will be positioned above Haval, and then they make a Haval based on the first car of that brand. Lovely.
The W01 and W02 will be powered by a 2.0 turbo with 230hp and 360nm. This is not a special engine for WEY, it is used to power various Haval’s in various variations, including the H8 and H9. The 2.0 turbo, there we go again, will also power the F6 and F6i, but there it will deliver just 197hp and 300nm. So that indeed is a difference of some sort.
W01: 4600/1860/1720, and wheelbase is 2680.
W02: 4420/1845/1695, and wheelbase is 2660.
Well, the interior looks really good and really luxurious. Much better than Haval and much more stylish. The instrument panel is digital and the touch screen is 12.3 inch.
This is the W02. Wheelbase differs only 2 centimeter with the W01 so there is no visible difference in space.
Happily the WEY W01 had its doors open, the W01 it should be remembered is 18 centimeters longer than the W02. There are no other visual differences. Bumpers, lights, all the same.
A fine steering wheel with a flat bottom. Center tunnel looks very techy. Materials are top notch.
Super sharp screen.
That’s two centimeter more space for the legs. But it should have much more space for the bags.
And here is the hybrid. No visual differences again. Same 230hp 2.0 turbo. but is also has two electric motors: one at the front axle with 20hp and one at the rear axle with 114hp. Serious numbers, making for 364 horses together. WEY claims a full-electric range of 50 kilometer and a 0-100 in 6.9 seconds.
The W01 eAD.
It is a beautiful car. But it isn’t easy to see the point. No special engine, no special platform, and sister at Haval. Where is this going for WEY..? It could make sense as an export brand, but they said absolutely nothing about export, so for now we assume WEY is for China only. They did however say they will launch another three SUVs before 2020, presumably based on the Haval H7/H8/H9.
So can they pull it off? Too easy to say it seems. And the real question should be: Why WEY? More as we get it…