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China’s LDV set to reveal all-new ute

Scooped: A camouflaged engineering prototype of the all-new LDV ute spotted testing in China earlier this year – and revealed exclusively by GoAuto.

SAIC confirms new pick-up for LDV to be shown soon ahead of mid-2017 launch here

28 Oct 2016

CHINA’S biggest motor company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), has revealed that an all-new one-tonne utility for its LDV brand will debut next month ahead of an Australian launch in July next year.

The pick-up will play a key role in distributor Ateco Automotive’s quest to triple sales of the fledgling LDV brand here, taking its anticipated 1600 sales this year beyond 5000 once the full ute range is up and running.

SAIC management is also targeting an ambitious 10 per cent market share of the pick-up range after about a year on sale, which equates to more than 18,000 units and would thrust it into the top end of the ultra-competitive segment at about the same level as big players like the Nissan Navara and Holden Colorado.

GoAuto exclusively revealed in May that LDV was preparing to launch a ute here next year – uncovering a camouflaged engineering prototype in the process – and now further details have emerged that the vehicle will match the Australian-developed Ford Ranger in size, undercut Japanese contenders on price, and will be offered with a comprehensive line-up.

“Our portfolio will cover all of dual-cab, single-cab, diesel engine, gasoline engine, manual transmission, auto transmission, everything,” SAIC vice-president Lan Qingsong announced at a media event in Sydney this week.

“We will launch this pick-up at next month’s Guangzhou auto show. Next year we will launch the pick-up in Australia in July.”

Mr Qingsong was not shy about volume aspirations for the pick-up range in Australia, forecasting a minimum 10 per cent market share in just over a year in the marketplace.

“I think at least we should have the 10 per cent market share, at least,” he said.

“We do have discussion with our partners and so long as we launch the product and we think in number 13th month we can target with that number.”

Ateco Automotive executive chairman Neville Crichton was far more circumspect with the projected sales volume, highlighting the potential to reach 5000 annual sales – up from an expected 1600 this year – once the ute comes on-board.

Mr Crichton argued the ute’s quality and driveability standards could match the Japanese brands, and that it would not have to enter the market with budget pricing.

“We have been going (with LDV) now for approximately two years, we don’t have to apologise for the product at all, the quality is fantastic, so we see the quality of the utility right up there with the Japanese and we’d like to think we’re a little bit better value and we’re not selling it as a cheap Chinese vehicle,” he said.

“We would see it a little bit under the Japanese but not a great deal. It will be competitively priced but it won’t be at the bottom of the bucket like some other Chinese brands, it doesn’t need to be. Size-wise (it is) pretty close to a Ford Ranger.”

Asked whether he believed Australians would expect to pay less for a lesser known brand regardless of competitive quality and driveability, Mr Crichton pointed to the fact that the G10 van had already secured 15 per cent of the petrol-only (2.5-3.5t GVM) van segment.

The new diesel variants of the G10 launched this week are also expected to almost immediately double sales of the van and add significant incremental volume to the LDV brand.

“Without doubt we’ve got to give them a reason to come into our store but we’ve conquered 15 per cent of the petrol market and how long has the G10 been going – 12 months? Not even 12 months,” he said.

“We’re no different to a Triton or a Ranger or whatever. We’ll launch the car with a 2.8-litre diesel, we don’t see a lot of difference capacity-wise from Thailand, from what’s coming out of these Japanese makes.

“Quality-wise we’re right there. I’ve driven it it’s a very good vehicle.”

The ute will initially be built in China, however moves are afoot to have Thailand as a key production source. This is where most of Australia’s one-tonner utes are built, all of which benefit from the free-trade agreement in place between Australia and Thailand.

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