Possibly with the benefit of hindsight, gigantic Chinese car maker Great Wall Motors is having a rethink about how it presents its Ora brand to European and Irish buyers. Perhaps that was inevitable – how many buyers really want to lay down cash on a car with a cutesy name like Funky Cat?
Well, from January 1st, the Funky Cat will no longer be a Funky Cat. And it won’t – quite – be an Ora either, as Great Wall Motors has decided that all of its cars in the European market should bear its own name, so they will be rebranded with GWM badges in a programme called One GWM.
The Ora name will stay around, though, and will become a designator for certain models in the line-up. It means that the Funky Cat will, from January, be renamed and rebadged as the GWM Ora 03.
Thiemo Jahnke, European brand and marketing director at GWM Europe, says: “Buying, owning, and driving a GWM car will be as straightforward, stress-free, and uncomplicated as never before. Together with our partners, we are working on a range of services, products, and offers across the entire customer journey. Starting in 2024, we aim to make our customers’ experience with GWM simple and even more enjoyable. One GWM will help us bring this promise to life, as it allows us to bundle our efforts for all our customers under one brand roof.”
Jennifer Moran, marketing manager for IM Group, the company that imports and distributes Ora models in Ireland, says customers won’t notice a huge difference. “The only immediate change to the Irish market is the GWM Ora naming convention for its models. The brand strategy update will take a phased approach across different markets so retailers, corporate branding and so on will all remain the same for now so there will be no real impact on the Irish customer.”
Why do it at all, though? Did the GWM people just up and decide that Funky Cat was too silly a name for a serious car? Not quite, as Jahnke explains: “A consistent approach in marketing, sales, IT, and aftersales, as well as streamlined structures, processes and systems will enhance the speed and efficiency of our joint operations, from distribution down to the dealership. In addition One GWM will help us create a stronger consumer brand in the tough European marketplace and a faster awareness and familiarity ramp-up. A stronger brand will also be capable of generating higher natural demand and higher resale values. Ultimately, this approach will also ease further portfolio expansion in Europe. A numerical naming system will make it easy to distinguish between models.”
The Wey range is not confirmed for Ireland yet. However, the Wey models have been confirmed for sale in other European markets, so it’s far from impossible
That expansion begins imminently, with the arrival of GWM Ora’s four-door saloon, the one that looks more than a little like a Porsche Panamera, if the Panamera were to feature in an Anime cartoon. That car’s name has been something of an open secret for some time, but GWM has now officially confirmed that when the 500km-ranged rival to the Tesla Model 3 arrives in the new year, it will be called the GWM Ora 07. Sadly, it’s unlikely that we’ll get the Ora Ballet Cat on this side of the world, although it would be hard not to be charmed by its original VW Beetle cosplay styling, and its 500km range.
More likely to arrive here will be the car formerly known (in China) as the Cherry Cat and (in Germany) as the Wey Coffee 02. This compact crossover will be rebadged as the GWM Wey 03, which features a plug-in hybrid powertrain with a large 45kWh battery that gives it an EV range of up to 124km. There’s a larger, more luxurious GWM Wey 05, which can offer as much as 160km of EV range from its plug-in hybrid system.
The Wey range is not confirmed for Ireland yet, though. Jennifer Moran says: “We don’t have any concrete information on Wey or other GWM subsidiaries and their availability in Ireland.” However, the Wey models have been confirmed for sale in other European markets, so it’s far from impossible.
GWM also has its Tank brand, which makes hefty hybrid-engined off-roaders, such as the Tank 300 – a rival to the likes of the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco; and the more luxurious Tank 500 – a potential rival to the Toyota Land Cruiser. Both of these models are already on sale in Australia, so are available with right-hand drive.