Haval, which claims to be China’s leading SUV brand and is part of the Great Wall Motor (GWM) group, has launched production of the F7 SUV in a new factory in Tula, Russia.

This is the automaker’s first “full-process mass-produced vehicle manufactured overseas” – built from CKD kits.

The F7 is also the first vehicle to use Chinese research and development on a multinational scale with full-process production conducted both in China and Russia.

“With the Tula Factory, we are helping stimulate local economic development as part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Wei Jianjun, chairman of Great Wall.

“I believe our globalisation strategy has the potential to go beyond opening international markets – it will propel Haval to be a key player on the global auto stage.”

With investment totaling over US$500m, the Tula factory is GWM’s largest overseas investment project to date and China’s first full-process offshore vehicle factory. With an annual capacity of 150,000 units, the factory covers all production stages including pressing, welding, painting and integrated assembly.

The factory also has parts on-site and quality control will be conducted locally.

In line with Haval’s plan to localise 65% of production, over 90% of the plant’s 800 employees are local and this was expected to grow to 1,500 by the end of June 2019. As Tula’s most significant industrial project, the factory will boost the local economy by RMB3bn (US$430m) forecast in domestic revenue and taxes. Vehicles from the factory will also be exported to neighbouring countries, bolstering Tula’s foreign exchange income.

The Tula factory heralds Haval’s ‘Globalization 3.0 era’, leveraging the Belt and Road Initiative to champion sustainable development through global distribution while exporting China’s manufacturing and technological advancements worldwide.

In addition to providing a full-process mass-scale factory to service the expanding Russian market, Haval’s factory acts as a joint resource for other automakers with OEM parts, complete knock-down and assembly to reduce costs and minimise investment risks.

Located in Uzlova Industrial Park in Tula, Russia, the factory is strategically positioned near Russian economic hubs including Tula, New Moscow, and Moscow.

Haval’s factory will serve as a base for development into central Asian and eastern European markets, including the adjacent countries of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Moldova.