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Future models - JMC - S350

China’s JMC plans to launch utes, trucks, SUVs here

Key model: JMC plans to add the S350 SUV to its Australian-market model range in 2017, a seven-seat wagon based on a ladder-frame chassis that will take on the likes of the Great Wall X200.

JMC’s three-year model plan includes Vigus ute, Conquer truck, S350 SUV – and more

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JMC logo3 Feb 2015

JIANGLING Motors Corporation (JMC) has outlined its short- to medium-term model plan for Australia, kicking off with the Vigus utility in April ahead of a broader rollout of trucks and SUVs over the next three years.

With prices to start from $23,990 driveaway for the 4x2 petrol double cab and $26,990 driveaway for the 4x2 diesel double cab, the Vigus will go head-to-head with Great Wall’s V240 and V200 utes.

Dual-cab versions of the ute across at least two trim levels and 4x2 and 4x4 drivelines will begin arriving next month through factory distributor Jiangxi Jiangling Motors Import and Export Co (JMIE), with a single cab body style due to be added next year.

In an exclusive interview with GoAuto this week, JMIE general manager Feng Wang said the Vigus was benchmarked against the Toyota HiLux and Mitsubishi Triton, and that in China the Vigus is considered to be a more upmarket brand than Great Wall.

He added that Australian perceptions of Chinese vehicles as ‘cheap’, however, meant entering the market here to sit alongside Chinese rivals.

“From our design and development side our benchmark is HiLux and Triton, but here we need to face reality of what ‘Made in China’ means – that is, it has quite a low price,” he said.

“So we need to sacrifice our price to let people try our products to convince them that it’s good.” As reported, both the petrol and diesel engine are 2.4-litre four-cylinder units – the petrol is the familiar 100kW/200Nm Mitsubishi-sourced engine, while the 90kW/290Nm turbo-diesel comes from Ford, which has a 32 per cent share in a joint venture with JMC in China.

There is no automatic transmission available at launch, with only a five-speed manual in service.

Mr Wang said he expected the Vigus would receive a three-star crash-test rating from the independent ANCAP authority – putting it below the HiLux and other utilities which have maximum five-star ratings – and that in time, with more development, the safety rating should improve.

“Every year we’re sending people here to talk to the ANCAP engineers,” he said.

“As a manufacturer we need to try our best to achieve a better test rating in the future. But it’s not easy. China has grown rapidly for the past 10 to 15 years and it is now that they are thinking about quality and safety.” Mr Wang said the JMC range will expand next year with the arrival of the Conquer truck.

Australian specifications are yet to be confirmed, but in China the Conquer is available in two wheelbase lengths – 2.75m and 3.36m – and is capable of carrying payloads from 2500kg up to 4000kg. A 290kW/320Nm 2.4-litre diesel engine is currently used in the Chinese market, but Mr Wang said Australian variants will be fitted with powerplants that meet Euro 6 emission standards.

“We have two engines planned for the Australian market – but we’re still looking for Euro 6 technology,” he said.

In 2017 JMC will introduce its Yusheng S350 seven-seater SUV, but will drop the Yusheng name (meaning ‘triumphant’) from the title.

Based on the ladder-chassis Vigus, the S350 will line up against the Great Wall X200 which similarly uses a more rugged body-on-frame construction.

Mr Wang told GoAuto that a smaller five-seater SUV will arrive in Australia in 2018. He said it was too early to confirm drivetrains and other details, but anticipated that JMC would incorporate more Ford technology in its next-generation vehicles.

“We looking to adopt more Ford technology in the future SUV, but still we need to see the results here,” he said.

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