Currently reading: Opinion: Finally, a Chinese car brand to take seriously in Europe
The premium-pegged Wey brand, owned by Chinese giant Great Wall, is tipped for big things in Europe

So the moment has arrived: a credible Chinese car maker entering the European car market with something other than a cheap runaround.

Yes, the Wey Coffee 01 has a rather weird name, but everything else the execution of this premium SUV is to be taken deadly seriously. It comes from Great Wall Motors, China’s biggest SUV maker for more than a decade, which today confirmed plans to not only start selling cars in Europe in 2022 (starting with Germany) but that it would build a factory here and extend R&D operations, too.

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Wey was set up in 2016 to sit above Great Wall’s Haval brand, and always had global aspirations on its mind. We heard as much back in 2017 at the Guangzhou motor show, when your correspondent first came across the brand and those behind it.

Electric car buyers have so-far proven themselves to be far much more brand agnostic than those in ‘legacy’ products. Technology, range and price all seem far more important than the badge on the bonnet, which is partly why the likes of Hyundai with the Kona Electric and Kia with the eNiro have had such success.

Tesla is a bit different, but it’s frankly cleaning up when compared to the electric car efforts of traditional car makers in Europe, with only the Volkswagen Golf above it in the sales charts in June, with the likes of the VW ID 3 and ID 4 nowhere to be seen.

This shows how ripe for disruption the electric car market really is from not only brands who might not be seen as the most fashionable, but from new entrants, too. While the Coffee 01 is plug-in hybrid, it’s the one with the biggest battery and greatest range yet seen and is a forerunner to a whole range of electrified models to come.

Wey markets itself as premium, and it will match many a European offering, ‘premium’ or not, with technology, and trump them on range and price.

All of which makes the current premium brands at a bit of a tipping point. Over the past decade, the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, as well as Volkswagen and Volvo, have made ever-more cars and made ever-more profits.

Yet there’s no getting away from the fact that electric cars typically offer a broader similar driving experience, no matter what brand they’re coming from. So as these traditional premium brands, like all other car makers old and new, go all in on electric cars, what’s going to define them as premium in the future? Driving a premium internal combustion engined saloon from a mainstream one offers a noticeable difference that isn’t so noticeable when you switch the propulsion to electric. 

The disruption of electric cars is not only from the technology powering them but from the brands that make them. Wey, an experienced and successful car company in China, has a golden chance to be successful in a new world now that the old one has been left behind.


Wey Coffee 01 revealed

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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mrking 8 September 2021

Apart from the unnecessary swearing, I’d love to know what device you typed that rant on and where your list of approved countries that we are allowed to buy things from is. 

Matty_Hall 8 September 2021

Don't promote anything Chinese. I will never take them 'seriously', and if you think I'd consider buying one then you're on another fucking planet. Go and read up on the social credit system.

lambo58 7 September 2021

Not unlike our country then, Wholesale slaughter of hundreds of thousands of middle eastern people under the complete lie of Weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear missiles that can devastate us within 45 minutes led by our pet poodle Blair under that cretin Bush. Our three unsuccessful invasions of Afghanistan over three wretched attempts for utterly no good reason and god only knows how many regime changes before the Americans overtook us in terms of sheer military might. Andy 1960, youve got some nerve. We as a nation have butchered our way to the top over hundreds of years. you need to do some research, its nothing to be proud of. And right now we have a liar for another PM. Now the Chinese have their boot on us in terms of commerse we dont like it. Did-dums. As for Afghanistan, The Chinese are not attempting regime change, they dont give a monkeys about cult, superstitions or religeous bollocks, they just want the minerals and have asked the Taliban if they could have them for hard currency and lo and behold they said yes. Geddit?