If you had to choose one of the many Chinese brands which should by now be reaching manufacturing, marketing and sales maturity, which would it be? For me, the sophistication of how it communicates with the media is one of the reasons why I find Great Wall especially intriguing.

Unlike most of its home-market rivals, Great Wall Motors has a half-decent media website where the gist of what it wants to get across can be understood with just one read. The latest release (it points out the company's position in Chile, a modestly sized market where it has now overtaken Volkswagen and Mazda) is possibly the best and most revealing one that I've seen from the firm.

OK, Chile is hardly a throbbing powerhouse of global automotive industry activity but if you watch China's manufacturers closely, you can see trends. The smartest of them, and I place GWM in my top three on that count, continues to ape what Toyota did in the 1960s and we all know where the Nagoya-based former loom manufacturer is today. In short, Great Wall is picking off smaller markets one by one, where it is learning what customers in the rich countries of tomorrow want.

If you have the time, read the press release I've linked to above, and see what GWM believes is behind its recent successes in Chile. The small cars, pick-ups and SUVs that have been re-engineered for local conditions reminds me of how Toyota started small in another modestly-sized market where I lived for a few decades. There were, and are, occasional dud products but the company is now, many decades on, so far ahead of its rivals in Australia that it's uncatchable. The country is now rich, the market totals around a million vehicles annually and just as is the case in the US, a huge number of people see no reason to even consider any other brand.

As regular readers will know, the majority of my work concerns researching future vehicles, combined with some reporting on current ones too. Great Wall might be quietly drawing attention to its performance in the small Chilean market today but have a think about where it could be in ten years' time.

There is a lot of money being invested in multiple future models and these cars and LCVs will be far more modern than the still fairly decent vehicles that GWM sells at the moment. I would wager that managed well, the brand could become a household name in many populous, rich countries of the future; places such as Brazil, Poland, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey and South Africa.

It's a sad fact that graft and/or inflation continue(s) to wreck or greatly hamper the promise of widely-distributed riches in technically wealthy countries such as Russia, Ukraine, India, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But if things improve in just some of these places, even a two percent share of the new vehicle market in a handful of them would help propel GWM towards where Toyota had cleverly, quietly placed itself in the booming 1980s. Food for thought.

Author: Glenn Brooks

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