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Building block: Great Wall Motors Group considers Australia a key market in its ‘global deployment’ and has installed Hidesuke Takesue as COO to help ensure the Great Wall and Haval brands succeed here.

HAVAL Motors Australia’s recently appointed chief operating officer Hidesuke Takesue has arrived in Australia and is now overseeing the expansion of the Haval and Great Wall Motors brands in this market.

His arrival coincides with the departure of chief marketing officer Tim Smith, whose contract was not renewed after playing a key role in Haval’s market launch in 2015 and the subsequent relaunch of Great Wall, which switched to the newly established factory operation from independent distributor Ateco Automotive.

Haval Motors Australia public relations and product specialist Andrew Ellis told GoAuto that Mr Takesue would assume the Mr Smith’s responsibilities – which were heavily focused on strengthening the dealer network – and that the company was not looking for a replacement at this stage.

He said the senior management line-up otherwise remains unchanged, with managing director Koma Li and general manager Kevin Liu continuing in roles that see them divide their time between Australia and China.

Other members of the local leadership team include Peter Mercuri (sales), Bill So (marketing), Tony Carraturo (aftersales), CK Tan (finance) and the recently appointed Garry Moran (dealer network).

Mr Takesue is permanently based at the company’s Australian headquarters in Melbourne, reporting directly to Great Wall Motors Group chief executive Wang Fengyin.

His appointment is seen as a key step in the Chinese car-maker’s international expansion and reflects the fact that GWM has identified Australia as a significant market.

He brings more than 35 years’ experience with Mazda Motor Corporation the position, most recently as deputy general manager of the global sales and marketing division.

He is a former president and CEO of Mazda Sales (Thailand) and has held various other senior sales and marketing positions for the Japanese car-maker across the region.

These included deputy general manager of the overseas sales division, general manager of the South-East Asia department and chief financial officer for the region.

GWM is now looking to Mr Takesue to build on early progress made in Australia, and he has hit the ground running, visiting current and prospective dealers as his first priority.

“It’s good news for us,” Mr Ellis told GoAuto.

Tim Smith

“We’ve been talking for a while about the need to strengthen the international division of Haval, and this is part of that push – hence the announcements that came at Beijing from Madam Wang about various new products coming for international markets, including right-hand-drive markets.

“The good thing is we’ve now got another strong voice in head office and we’ve got a head office which is now casting a greater eye on the international division.”

In a statement, Mr Takesue said: “China will definitely lead the world automobile industry as it becomes the Detroit of the 21st century. I am excited to be working at the cutting edge of the industry.

“Australia is a critical market in the continued global business development of Great Wall Motor. I am confident my previous experience of local business development with product marketing strategy and its execution will contribute to the continued growth of Great Wall Motor and development of the Haval brand in Australia.

“In addition to the exciting new products arriving in Australia, I will look to work closely with our growing network of experienced Haval dealers and improve customer service.”

Madam Wang announced Mr Takesue’s appointment at the Beijing motor show in April, when she also announced a range of new export and ‘new energy vehicles’ and emphasised the importance of Australia to the company’s global strategy.

“Success in Australia is important to the global deployment of Great Wall Motor,” she said. “The appointment of Mr Takesue as COO will help with that strategy.”

As previously reported, Ms Wang told Australian journalists at the Beijing show, including GoAuto, that the company was confident it would succeed in this market, despite a slow start that last year saw the Haval and Great Wall brands post 710 and 404 sales respectively.

“We understand the volume might not be strong at the moment, but we think Australian consumers will accept our products in quick time,” she said.

“We are very confident that we will succeed in the Australian market, but not by simply repeating what has been done by the South Korean brands, but be more innovative. All the products from the GWM Group like Wey and Haval are far beyond their performance in terms of quality in the Chinese market.

“We understand Korean brands are doing a lot of volume in the Australian market, but we believe consumers always want more technologies, more value for money, better styling … that’s why we are confident we will bring good enough products to compete in the market, and competition in the Australian market is going to help us to better our products and help us win.”

Mr Smith came to Haval/GWM from Kia Motors Australia, where he had served for six years in senior management positions including national network development manager, national sales manager and national sales operations manager.

Prior to that he worked as a senior market analyst for Subaru Australia.

By Terry Martin