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EXCLUSIVE: China’s JAC plans EV ute launch

JAC to take on LDV and GWM with ‘T9’ 4x4 dual-cab ute – and electric versions in 2024

3 Dec 2022

TWO dual-cab four-wheel drive utes will launch in Australia in the third quarter of next year and a full-electric version will follow as another Chinese brand – JAC – makes its return to the local market.


JAC, which briefly – and unsuccessfully – introduced light trucks into Australia a decade ago before departing the market, told GoAuto that it will bring three vehicles into the country in March for testing by an Australian vehicle evaluation company.


The manufacturer reintroduced light trucks to Australia, successfully this time, as a full-electric range 12 months ago. JAC has previously never launched a pick-up in the Australian or New Zealand market.


It will follow that by bringing demonstrator units of its T9 Hunter ute in by June with a view to a public launch in the third quarter.


The brand will be represented in Australia by NSW-based distributors BLK Auto. Its managing director, Jason Pecotic, said the EV version is planned for launch on the Australian and New Zealand markets simultaneously in the second quarter of 2024.


“The utes will be very highly specified with the aim for a five-star ANCAP rating and performance and price to make them competitive against utes including the LDV T60 and GWM Ute,” he said.


“It will come with features including a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, eight-speed ZF automatic, part-time four-wheel drive and four-wheel disc brakes.”


Mr Pecotic said it was too early for details on pricing but expected pricing to be similar to its Chinese rivals. For reference, the LDV T60 automatic is priced from $40,990 to $44,490 and the GWM Ute is $37,990 to $44,490, all including on-road costs.


He said that BLK Auto was now seeking dealers to represent the brand around Australia and New Zealand.


JAC’s joint-venture partner in China is Volkswagen Group, which provides R&D to JAC but not components.


Mr Pecotic said JAC manufactures close to a million vehicles per year.


“They are now looking at exports with a belief they can get a good percentage of the market here,” he said.


“The ute has the specifications to bring to the market a strong and capable ute that is competitive in price and performance with its peers.”


JAC’s ute chassis has been developed in-house and uses a JAC diesel engine, like the units in JAC’s light truck range. 


The JAC T9 Hunter Pickup is currently sold only in China and made only in left-hand drive at the moment. Australia will be the first export market and first right-hand drive market for the T9.


An in-development all-electric version is based heavily on the T9 and has a drivetrain derived from JAC’s previous expertise in EVs and its electric light trucks that are already sold in Australia.


Mr Pecotic said penalties now applying to high-emitting internal combustion vehicles imported into New Zealand – which are used to subsidise incentives for electric vehicles – mean that country will not get the diesel version.


“We will launch the electric ute in New Zealand and Australia at the same time, expected to be at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024,” he said.


The T9 is similar in dimensions and performance to the GWM ute. It is 5330mm long, 1965mm wide and 1920mm high and rides on a 3110mm wheelbase.


Mr Pecotic said it has a 3500kg braked tow rating and a part-time 4x4 system that is designed for serious off-road work.


The engine is rated at 125kW/410Nm – somewhat off the pace against mainstream rivals –  and drive is through a ZF automatic transmission (no manual is available) and transfer case with low-range gearing.


It will come with four-wheel disc brakes (unlike the majority of Thai-built utes that come with rear drums), a rear differential lock and 265/60 tyres on 18-inch alloy wheels.


Safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping and assist, tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control and seven airbags.


Cabin features are leather-faced, heated electrically adjustable front seats, a 10.4-inch touchscreen infotainment array, a 7.0-inch driver information screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, 220V power outlet, wireless phone charging, ISOFIX child seat anchors, and climate control with rear-seat vents.

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