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Exclusive: LDV confirms all-new pick-up, SUV

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

Extra models and new diesel engine set to drive LDV expansion in Australia


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31 May 2016

CHINESE vehicle manufacturing giant SAIC Automotive has confirmed it will double its LDV model line-up in Australia by 2018, adding contenders in the mass-selling one-tonne ute and large SUV segments.

The ute – arriving in Australia in 2017 – is expected to go head-to-head with Great Wall’s born-again one-tonner range that will be distributed by factory importer Great Wall Motors Australia under a newly struck deal announced last week (see separate story).

LDV’s Australian distributor, LDV Automotive Australia, is also planning to introduce a diesel version of its Chinese-made G10 one-box goods van before the end of this year in a move that will likely double sales of the affordable load lugger that does battle against the likes of Toyota’s HiAce and Hyundai’s iLoad.

Like its petrol counterparts, the diesel G10 is expected to become Australia’s most affordable diesel van in the mid-sized class, undercutting diesel rivals – most of which start in the $36-38K range – by thousands of dollars.

To handle the expanded range and resultant sales growth, the importer – a division of independent distributor Ateco Automotive – is adding an extra 13 dealerships to its LDV retail network by the end of this year, taking the national count to 50, potentially the largest for any Chinese manufacturer.

Most of the newcomers will be in regional centres where the new pick-up will make the LDV franchise more viable than the current van-only range that, apart from the G10, includes the bigger V80 full-sized van.

So far, details of the new ute and related SUV are still under wraps, although a photograph of what is believed to be an engineering mule for the pick-up has surfaced in China.

The disguised vehicle appears to be a conventional one-tonner to take on rivals such as the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and a raft of others.

It is shown in four-door crew-cab form, although GoAuto expects other variants such as a single cab-chassis workhorse to be added to the list.

The final production ute is likely to surface at next year’s Shanghai motor show, in April, before being rolled out in China and then export markets later in 2017.

SAIC showed a large SUV concept, the Maxus D90, at the recent Beijing motor show in what is believed to be a hint at the styling direction of its proposed 4x4 family wagon that almost certainly will sit on the same rugged ladder chassis as the ute.

The production SUV is expected to arrive in 2018, with a right-hand-drive version in development from the outset.

As LDV Australia general manager Dinesh Chinnappa told GoAuto last year, a team of product planners and marketing specialists spent some time in Australia researching the ute and SUV markets.

Both of the new LDV vehicles are likely to get SAIC’s latest diesel engine – a Euro 5-compliant 1.9-litre DTi-Tech turbocharged unit producing 110kW of power and 350Nm of torque – that will debut in Australia in the LDV G10 van in October.

This engine is already doing duty overseas in SAIC vehicles such as the MG6 in the UK and, since last year, in the G10 in China.

Although fuel economy figures for the diesel G10 have not been disclosed, the lighter and more aerodynamic MG6 diesel returns an impressive 3.8 litres per 100km and emits just 119 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

LDV Australia spokesman Daniel Cotterill said the turbo-diesel was an SAIC in-house development with input from globally recognised experts such as Bosch.

“From all reports, it is a very quiet, tractable, smooth engine,” he said.

Mr Cotterill said because the G10 was only available with petrol power until now, LDV’s access to the Australian van market was restricted to less than 20 per cent.

“With the new diesel, we get to play in the other 80 per cent of the segment we currently can’t play in,” he said.

“We hope that will allow us to build to 300-plus sales a month, which might sound optimistic, to double to our volume, but I think it is quite realistic over time.” When the ute and SUV come on stream, the sales potential will be even greater, he said.

So far this year, LDV has averaged about 120 sales a month, split almost evenly between the petrol only G10 and the bigger diesel-only V80.

Initially, the diesel G10 for Australia will be equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, but a city-friendly six-speed automatic courtesy of German supplier ZF will land in early 2017.

In its current manual-gearbox 2.4-litre petrol guise, the G10 is Australia’s most affordable one-tonne van, at $25,990 driveaway. The petrol automatic version, with a more sophisticated 2.0-litre petrol engine, is $29,990 driveaway.

Mr Cotterill said the G10 diesel would be confined to the goods van, while the people-mover version would retain petrol motivation.

He said petrol remained the fuel of choice for family transport, while tradies, courier drivers and similar business operators were crying out for diesel.

“We would expect sales of diesel to outstrip petrol by a factor of three to four to one over time,” he said.

Mr Cotterill said pricing for the G10 diesel would be announced closer to launch, but it would carry a premium over the petrol versions.

“As you would expect, that (G10 diesel) will be offered at a price a little more expensive than the current one, but not too much,” he said. “It will certainly be in line with industry expectations.

“Final price is subject to negotiation and currency fluctuations – all the normal variables – but we are quite confident we will be right on the money with that.”

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