Great Wall Motor, China’s largest SUV manufacturer, is shifting its focus to become China’s largest and foremost pickup truck brand.

Company vice-president Li Ruifeng confirmed the new strategy at a news conference held in Baoding, North China’s Hebei province where the automaker unveiled the new Wingle 7 pickup truck which will go on sale locally by the end of the year.

Great Wall believes pickup trucks are set to replace SUVs as the key growth segment of the Chinese vehicle market and is gearing up to increase its capabilities in this area.

Ning Shuyong, also a Great Wall vice-president and general manager of the pickup truck division, had previously stated the company is targeting annual pickup truck sales of over 200,000 units by 2020 from 120,000 last year. 

Ning said he was focused on making Great Wall a top three global pickup truck manufacturer and that medium- and long-term plans were being put in place to this effect in terms of manufacturing capabilities, product portfolio, marketing channels, aftersales service networks and overseas market development.

Construction of a new pickup truck plant with a 70% automation rate is scheduled to go into operation in Chongqing by the end of 2019, lifting the company’s overall pickup truck capacity to 400,000 units per year.

A new range of private-use pickup-based vehicles will be launched in the next three years, including electric-powered, off-roading, touring and modifying models.