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Guangzhou show: Ateco eyes LDV motorhome imports

Road warrior: China’s SAIC Motor has opened a purpose-built factory to build V80-based motorhomes, direct to the world.

Cut-price Chinese-made LDV motorhomes set to shake up Australian RV industry

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LDV logo23 Nov 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

AUSTRALIA’S healthy motorhome market is likely to be the next target for China’s biggest automotive company, SAIC Motor, via its LDV commercial vehicle arm.

Already committed to the freshly unveiled LDV T60 one-tonne ute range from 2017, LDV’s Australian importer Ateco Automotive says it is in talks with SAIC about selling a factory built motorhome based on its British-engineered, Chinese-made LDV V80 cab chassis.

Like the T60 pick-up, the motorhome – a medium-sized camper with toilet, shower, TV and high-end electrics controlled by touchpad – was shown at last week’s Guangzhou motor show ahead of its rollout in China and export markets.

In Australia, such vehicles tend to be locally built by Australian suppliers such as Jayco, Trakka, Horizon and Swagman, on cab-chassis light trucks supplied by motor vehicle importers such as Fiat, Iveco and Mercedes-Benz.

If the LDV motorhome gets the go-ahead for Australia, however, it will be built entirely at SAIC’s new $A67 million recreational vehicle factory, potentially delivering major cost savings for customers – and a potential headache for Australian RV specialists catering for the rental vehicle and grey nomad markets.

Such recreational vehicles regularly command price tags north of $100,000, depending on fit out.

The key to a fully imported motorhome will be to achieve Australian Design Rule homologation for the fully built-up vehicle. Such vans are usually put through the ADR process as a basic cab-chassis light truck, before the motorhome segment is attached.

This engineering challenge is now being discussed by Ateco and SAIC ahead of any commitment to importing the vehicle.

Ateco knows full well about the potential for such vehicles, as it once handled the supply of Fiats to the motorhome trade.

The importer said in a press release that the V80 RV could change the face of motorhome production.

“Costs will be reduced by fully productionising the build process, it all happening in one factory and in the hands of one company,” it said.

“With the complete vehicle being sold by LDV dealers, they will be the one stop-shop for the complete ownership process, from buying through to servicing, and this will be for the whole vehicles, not just the base vehicle on which the motorhome is based.

“In addition, there will be a larger dealer network to support the complete vehicle.”

Ateco has distributed the V80 in Australia for almost two years after taking over LDV from another independent importer, WMC.

Called Maxus in China, the LDV range also includes a smaller van, the G10, in goods van and passenger van guises.

So far this year, LDV has sold 406 V80s in Australia, along with 389 G10s, giving LDV 4.7 per cent of the van market.

The V80 originally was a British product, designed and manufactured by Leyland Daf Vehicles until the company was declared bankrupt in the global financial crisis.

SAIC Motor bought the company in 2009 and shipped the tooling to China where it put it back into production for Chinese domestic and export markets under the Maxus brand.

For Australia, the brand name was changed to LDV because of a trademark clash with a truck parts manufacturer.

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