Great Wall Motors opens a $900 million production facility in Chongqing in southwest China, with the first vehicles rolling off the line just 14 months after breaking ground.
The 8.4 million-sq.-ft. (780,000-sq.-m) facility will produce up to 160,000 Great Wall Ute pickups and Haval SUVs a year.
The Chinese automaker claims the 14 months from commencement of construction to production launch is a record for the automotive industry.
The facility includes a test track, vehicle compound, stamping plant, assembly plant, interior, exterior and seat sub-assembly plants along with a fully automated welding plant including 98 sets of Japanese Fanuc robots. The paint workshop has 46 gumming and spraying robots.
Automated guided vehicles deliver up to 70% of material to the production line.
The new Great Wall Ute has been designed from the ground up, and Great Wall says the pickup will be competitive with the world’s best.
The automaker says it has adopted a “perfection before production” approach. This includes smart manufacturing processes that use advanced planning scheduling and a new manufacturing execution system.
In China, the pickup’s name Pao translates into Cannon. Great Wall says the model name for export markets has yet to be determined.
In China, the new Pao features 360-degree cameras, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. It uses a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with four driving modes – auto, economy, sport and 4-low.
Great Wall says it aims to maintain first place in domestic and export pickup deliveries with annual sales of 200,000 units by 2020 and to achieve cumulative global sales of 3 million units by 2025.
Great Wall says setting up the factory in Chongqing’s Yongchuan district is a key link in its globalization strategy. Yongchuan is a logistics hub including highway, waterway, air and rail, it says.