Meet the Great Wall Wingle: A Compact Truck From China, Sold in Ecuador, With a Toyota Steering Wheel, and a Name Even the Manufacturer Doesn’t Understand
I was strolling along a beach in Canoa, Ecuador when a bright red pickup truck caught my eye. Parked on the sand was a “Great Wall Wingle 7.” I’d read about this compact four-door hailing from Great Wall Motors in China, and rarely seen one in person. But the Great Wall Wingle may be about to get much more common.
Great Wall Motors has been accused of stealing designs
Great Wall Motors (often called GWM) was founded in 1984. By 1998 it was the leading pickup truck manufacturer in China. Today, it dominates both the Chinese pickup truck and Chinese SUV segment through its “Haval” brand.
Though GWM has grown rapidly, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Fiat actually sued GWM for copying the Fiat Panda and badging its version as the Great Wall “Peri.” Other automakers have made similar claims as Great Wall Motors begins to sell its vehicles in foreign markets.
When Great Wall Motors still sold exclusively in China, it rolled out a compact pickup truck called the “Wingle.” It likely based the truck’s body design on the Chevrolet LUV/Isuzu Rodeo. The first Wingle came with either a Toyota or Mitsubishi engine. But GWM didn’t stop there. The first Great Wall Wingle featured a steering wheel identical to those found in the Toyota Camry and Sienna.
In 1998, GWM established its own research and development department. By the second generation of the Wingle, Great Wall was designing many of its own bodies, engines, and steering wheels.
What the truck is a Wingle?
There is conflicting information–from Great Wall Motors itself–about what the model name “Wingle” even means. This word is said to be a combination of the English words “Wind” and “Eagle.”
Donut Media found this confusing contradiction when it researched the worst car names in a YouTube video. The worst car list included the Dodge Scat Pack, Gaylord Gladiator, and Subaru Touring Bruce (named after Bruce Willis). But the Wingle is especially problematic because the information from Great Wall Motors seems to contradict tiself.
The history and future of the Great Wall Wingle
Another unique aspect of the Great Wall Wingle is its model history. GWM built the original Wingle, then the Wingle 3, Wingle 5, Wingle 6, and Wingle 7. It rarely fully replaced the old model with the new one, instead offering the cheaper and the more modern versions side-by-side.
The Wingle 7 I saw would have been avaialable with either RWD or 4WD. Buyers can choose between a 2.4-liter gasoline engine shared with the Mitsubishi Sirius or a 2.0-liter turbodiesel rated at 143 horsepower. Every truck comes with a six-speed manual. In China, GWM already offers a fully electric version.
The Wingle was the first Chinese-built truck offered in Australia. Great Wall Motors continued to expand into foreign markets (such as Ecuador) by building Wingles in China and exporting knockdown kits. But in recent years it has established manufacturing plants in Bulgaria, Iran, and Indonesia. In 2021, GWM bought a factory from Mercedes in São Paulo, Brazil. It plans to use this factory to expand its sales all across the Americas. Perhaps the mystrious Wingle will blow into a dealership near you.
Next, meet the ‘Alaskan’–a pickup truck engineered in Japan, built in Argentina, and sold in Columbia by a French company or see why good car names are rare in the video below: