Great Wall Motors has become the first independent Chinese car manufacturer to win European Whole of Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) from the UK-based Vehicle Certification Agency, sparking speculation it is about to expand into Europe.
The VCA has offices in China, and worked with Great Wall to achieve approval on four designs - the Florid MPV, the Coolbear baby SUV, the Hover 5 SUV (pictured) and Wingle 4 pick-up - which together account for more than 30 per cent of Great Wall's overseas sales. The WVTA was awarded in August, and the company has now publicised its results.
Although there has been no official word from Great Wall on its European sales plans, company and Chinese officials have hinted that it is looking to expand its sales reach. Its current key overseas markets are Algeria, Italy, Australia, Chile, South Africa and Syria.
A company statement said: "Great Walls should start from the highest benchmark, accepted by all markets, and meet the highest new standards; new products of the company should not only meet the latest standards of China, but the highest international standards, so that it can simultaneously be offered to all markets."
Fu Peizhao, deputy secretary-general of the auto division of the China chamber of commerce for import and export of machinery and electronic products, said: "Great Wall's export volume has been ranked first for some time among Chinese car makers, making it a leader in this regard.
"This certificate has established the company as a role model for other auto makers seeking expansion in the EU market."
WVTA testing takes a year and encompasses 48 tests, including 13 on active safety, 13 on passive safety and eight on emissions and environmental protection. Two further regulations involve pedestrian safety and end-of-life requirements such as re-use, recycling and recovery.