At that point, Great Wall had been using rail transport to shift vehicles across Russia’s vast expanse to local dealers in Moscow and other urban centres. This approach incurred substantial costs, as well as a relatively high damage ratio. A new approach was needed, and Great Wall chose its long-term partner Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics to devise an integrated logistics solution from China to Russia.

“We’d been cooperating with WWL for more than a decade, and compared with other logistics services providers, they have a distinct advantage in terms of both cost and quality of service,” says Junfeng Zhou, Director of Logistics at Haval Motor Russia. “Russia is an extremely competitive market, so we had to make sure that when we entered, we got it right.” 

In addition to introducing a new brand to the Russian market, Great Wall also planned on establishing its own dealer network rather than relying on local car dealers. Entrusting logistical issues to WWL enabled Great Wall to focus on this aspect of their business.

“Great Wall Motors is long-time partner of our company in China, and when they decided to start a new project in Russia with their new brand Haval, we offered them an integrated solution,” says Dmitri Vostrikov, WWL Managing Director for the Russia branch. “This included ocean transportation from Tianjin Port in China to Kotka terminal, which is operated by WWL, in Finland. We also provide overland transportation from Kotka to a central facility in the Moscow area, and then on to regional dealers.”

The point man for this project was Scott Tao, WWL’s China representative in Europe.

“When we heard that Great Wall had set up a Moscow office, we asked them what we could do to help support them locally, which opened a new line of communication,” Tao says. “We shared our experience and knowledge and provided some suggestions on how to optimise their logistics flow.”

The integrated solution of ocean shipping from Tianjin to Kotka, overland transport to Moscow and distribution to Great Wall’s new dealer network allowed Great Wall’s Russian operations to simply receive their cars at their dealerships. This freed their team to focus on marketing the new Haval brand.

Long-time partnership 

WWL has been cooperating with Great Wall in different capacities in China since 2003, and the trust that WWL has earned over the years has made it an easier choice for its Chinese client. In 2015, WWL provided an initial trial shipment from Tianjin to St Petersburg, which went off without a hitch. After that, shipping was shifted to the Kotka terminal.

“Great Wall was concerned with the inland part of the supply chain, and we paid heavy attention to our operations at our terminal in Kotka,” Vostrikov says. “We focused on ensuring smooth transportation by truck from Kotka to Moscow, and I believe the Haval team in Russia now have full confidence that the quality of service on the inland side is fully equal to that on the ocean side.”

The ability to monitor the shipping process from Tianjin to Moscow was also valuable in winning the client’s further trust. WWL provides tracking reports during shipping and almost daily reports on the cars in Kotka.

“It’s very easy to monitor the entire process, and we ensure the quality of transportation and storage from end to end,” Vostrikov says. “This gives the customer confidence that there will be a low damage ratio and consistency of service.”

Zhou says Great Wall appreciated both the hard-earned trust that WWL had built up over the years, as well as its use of information technology to provide a window on the entire shipping process.

“WWL’s service has been excellent,” he says. “We hope they continue to strive to provide this level of service and support going forward.”

The optimised Tianjin-Kotka-Moscow logistics solution provided by WWL not only saves Great Wall money and headache, but it allows the Chinese carmaker to concentrate its efforts on its next step in the Russian market. The company is planning to start production of Haval-branded cars at a new production facility in Uzlovaya in 2017. Within three years of its launch, the factory is projected to employ 2,500 people and manufacture 150,000 vehicles annually.

By enabling Great Wall to expand in the Russian market both quickly and confidently, WWL has reaped the double benefit of deepening trust in its services, while also demonstrating its capabilities to other Chinese manufacturers who are looking to expand their footprint in Russia.