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Sunday, September 26, 2021

GWM planning flagship Tank SUV with turbo six – report

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Great Wall Motors’ nascent Tank brand has a bigger, meaner SUV in the works.

The company has revealed sketches of the upcoming Tank 600, expected to pack a turbocharged six-cylinder engine.

Chinese outlet Ifeng reports it’ll debut at the 2021 Chengdu motor show, which runs from August 27 to September 5.

It’ll reportedly be powered by GWM’s previously-announced turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, which produces 260kW of power and 500Nm of torque.

It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission designed in-house.

It’s also expected to be close to the Toyota LandCruiser Prado in size and also feature body-on-frame construction, with an emphasis on off-road ability.

It’s too early to tell whether the Tank 600 will eventually make its way here, though the Tank 300 is firming for Australia.

The Tank 300 is quite a bit smaller than the Prado, measuring 4760mm long, 1930mm wide and 1927mm tall on a 2750mm wheelbase.

That puts it relatively close to the four-door Ford Bronco dimensionally.

In contrast, the Prado is 4995mm long, 1885mm wide, 1890mm tall, and has a 2790mm wheelbase.

GWM already has a Prado rival in the shape of the venerable H9 from its Haval brand, which is 4856mm long, 1926mm wide, 1900mm tall and riding a 2800mm wheelbase.

Where the Tank 300 and Tank 600 also differ is in their engine bays.

The Tank 300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 167kW of power and 387Nm of torque.

The engine is mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, with the Tank 300 boasting a 0-100km/h time of 9.5 seconds.

It’s all but certain to launch here in 2022 alongside the smaller Haval Big Dog, which also features bluff styling but is based on a crossover platform – think of it as the Ford Bronco Sport to the Tank’s Bronco.

Suspension is double-wishbone up front with a multi-link live axle at the rear, and there are available locking front and rear differentials, an off-road creep mode, and, appropriately enough, a tank turn function.

Based on the same body-on-frame platform as the GWM Ute, it may also be offered with a diesel option.

GWM Australia has already brought in some left-hand drive Tank 300s for testing and promotional purposes.

It says it has run focus groups through both cars, and presented the business case to head office to get both vehicles here.

The decision is currently being evaluated by headquarters in Baoding, around whether sales forecasts justify the right-hand drive investment.

The Chinese automaker could also be developing an even larger SUV.

Gasgoo reports the company has filed a trademark for another name: Tank 900.

That suggests something along the lines of a Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series could be in the works.

GWM now has five brands in its stable: the namesake GWM brand for utes, Haval for SUVs, Wey for luxury crossovers, Tank for more rugged SUVs, and Ora for electric vehicles.

In addition to Tank models, which may or may not wear the Haval name in Australia, GWM is also looking at bringing Ora models to Australia.

The company says that, given its current dealer order rate and forward estimates, it’s targeting 18,000 sales here this calendar year – 240 per cent up from its 5244 sales last year, which in turn was up from just 3108 sales in 2019.

GWM’s Australian national sales company is seen as a key part of its global plans: as a lucrative sales and profit opportunity for one, but also as a test market of sorts for further global expansion.

Founder and Chairman Jack Wey, who owns 54 per cent of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed company, wants a global footprint.

More than a million of GWM’s 1.16 million global sales last year were in China, but it’s targeting four million sales globally by 2025.

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