2020 should be an exciting year for the local bakkie market. GWM (Great Wall Motors) will launch its new P Series in South Africa and will be looking to take the fight to the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. According to the Chinese automaker: “In the future, P series will compete head-on with Toyota, Ford and other international mainstream bakkie brands in the global markets to accelerate the globalization process.”
This is a big claim made by GWM, but they are certain of the fact they can hold a candle to the market leaders. And just to prove that they are serious, the first P Series rolled off the production line in China on 30 August 2019 and the first global customers should take delivery of their bakkies early next year.
Counting in GWM’s favour is the fact that they are not new to the bakkie game. Some of us will recall the Steed 5 and Steed 6, two bakkies catering to the two spheres of the bakkie market, respectively: labour and leisure. But it was the Steed 6, with its bold design and affordable pricing, that looked to be the alternative choice to the likes of the Hilux, Ranger, and Isuzu D-Max. The P Series, according to the information available, is positioned higher up the hierarchy than the Steed 6 and will be slightly more premium.
Underlining that premium feel is the bakkie’s chassis. It uses the same ladder-frame architecture that’s also in use on the Haval H9 – the top luxury SUV in Haval’s product line-up (Haval is the luxury division of GWM). Powering the bakkie is the company’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 140kW and 360Nm. While the bakkie should be available in both 4×2 and 4×4, an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox will be standard across the range, according to early reports.
An interesting bit of news surrounding the P Series is the fact that it will be equipped with three differential locks. Avid off-roaders will rejoice at this, seeing that it should, in theory, give the P Series immense off-road capabilities. It remains to be seen whether the three diff-locks will be a standard or optionally available.
South Africa may be rife with bakkies from all shapes and sizes, but the GWM Steed has proven that the automaker can build bakkies our people want to own. And on paper, the P Series does warrant its future inclusion to the South African market. While it’s unlikely that it will steal sales from the Hilux and Ranger, the product itself might just give the two market leaders a big wakeup call.