Make / Model Search

Future models - Foton - P201

Foton ute to get Aussie moniker

What's in a name: Australian Foton importer WMC has rejected the ute's Chinese-market Tunland moniker and suggested an alternative.

Sydney meeting recommends ‘strong’ western name for Foton’s Tunland pick-up

4 Jul 2011

A MEETING in Beijing this week is expected to seal the Australian market name for the export version of an all-new ute from China’s biggest commercial vehicle-maker, Foton Motor Co.

The decision will go right to the top, with the chairman of the state-owned company making the final decision on the preferred name that was selected last week from a shortlist at a meeting in Sydney between executives of Foton and new Australian importer for Foton light-commercial vehicles, WMC Group.

At this stage, the undisclosed name has been recommended only for Australia, where the ute – codenamed P201 – is due for release in early 2012, but it might well be used in other western markets such as North America.

Speaking at the Australian International Motor Show, where he accompanied visiting Foton executives on a fact-finding mission on Friday, WMC Group CEO Jason Pecotic said his company had rejected the newly announced Chinese name for the ute, Tunland, as unsuitable for the Australian market.

64 center imageHe said that, after WMC expressed disappointment in the Tunland name, Foton had accepted that it needed to be westernised.

“We have basically been pushing the fact that Tunland means nothing here in Australia and, we believe, the western world,” he said.

“We believe the alternative name we came up with is a strong name. We sat around with the Foton marketing people for about three or four hours on Thursday and we put a presentation and a justification for the name that we chose.

“The name is westernised, and they accepted that.”

The choice will now go to a meeting of Foton marketing chiefs in Beijing in the next few days, with Mr Pecotic making another presentation on the rationale for the choice, with their recommendation going to the boss for sign-off.

“The actual chairman of the company is the person who gives it the yea or nay,” he said.

Mr Pecotic said that, although the decision concerned only the Australian market, he believed the new name would be more palatable in other western markets, including North America, said to be the ute’s priority market.

As GoAuto reported last month, the P201 is set to be built from November at an all-new factory outside Beijing – the home of Foton, which rivals Daimler as the world’s biggest truck, bus and light-commercial vehicle-maker.

Opened just last month, the factory also will make a range of other new Foton passenger vehicles, including an SUV codenamed U201 that will be spun off the P201 platform. The SUV is also on the agenda for Australia, along with a Transit-style van.

Australia is set to become the first export market for the ute, which will be powered by Cummins’ new ISF 120kW/360Nm 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine – also made in a new factory in Beijing – mated with a Getrag manual gearbox or optional ZF six-speed automatic transmission.

Announcing the Tunland at the factory open ceremony, Foton said the new vehicle would qualify for Euro 5 emissions compliance and a EuroNCAP four-star crash protection rating.

The Tunland is bigger than the top-selling Toyota HiLux at 5130mm long and 1800mm wide.

Foton hopes to launch it in North America in the second half of 2012, after first trialling it on the Australian market for about six months.

American import arrangements are yet to be announced.

Foton is the third Chinese brand to be signed-up by WMC Group, which also has the import rights for JAC trucks and passenger vehicles and Higer buses.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Read more

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Foton models

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here