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China’s Maxus to debut Down Under in late 2012

Maxxed: The SAIC Maxus V80 van range will hit Australian showrooms by the end of this year.

Seven Maxus vans to forge Chinese giant SAIC’s path into Australia late this year

15 Mar 2012

A SEVEN-MODEL van range will herald the Australian debut of China’s biggest motor manufacturer, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), in the last quarter of this year.

The giant state-owned company confirmed the plan to export its range of Maxus V80 vans to Australia via Sydney-based Chinese commercial vehicle specialist WMC Group today at the Melbourne Truck Trailer Show where WMC showed two of the vans in long-wheelbase and short wheelbase cargo formats.

The front-drive vans – all powered by European-designed Euro 4 VM Motori 100kW turbo-diesel engines – will comprise three cargo variants and four passenger models, in two roof heights.

They will go head-to-head with Hyundai iLoad, Toyota Hiace, Ford Transit and several European models from the likes of Renault, Iveco and Volkswagen.

The arrival of SAIC in Australia with its Maxus range was exclusively revealed by GoAuto on Tuesday, triggering calls to WMC from six would-be dealers across Australia looking to handle the product, even before it had been officially confirmed.

87 center imageIn China, SAIC Motor has joint-ventures with General Motors and Volkswagen producing 3.8 million cars and trucks last year, virtually all for the domestic Chinese market.

It also makes vehicles under its own brands – MG, Roewe and Maxus – with MG and Maxus leading the company’s fledgling export push.

After buying up MG Rover in 2005, SAIC purchased the rights to the Maxus van range from the ailing former Leyland company in 2009.

The WMC import agreement so far concerns only the Maxus van range, and GoAuto understands SAIC has been talking with another potential importer about handling the Chinese-made MG line-up, which has already been introduced into the UK and New Zealand markets via the mid-sized MG6.

SAIC executives flew into Melbourne for the announcement by WMG Group managing director Jason Pecotic, who said the UK-engineered Maxus vans would offer more creature comforts as standard than established players, along with a “strong European feel”.

“The Maxus vehicles will also come with a high level of standard features which are not available or are options on other brands, which supports the high level of build quality, design and positioning of the Maxus product,” he said.

Alloy wheels, reverse parking sensors, dual front airbags, dual sliding doors and rear barn doors on cargo models, dual-zone air-conditioning, LED headlights and an electric door-activated entry step on passenger van models will all be standard.

As well, some models will have tyre pressure monitoring and reversing camera.

The 2.5-litre VM Motori common-rail turbocharged four-cylinder engine develops 100kW of power and 330Nm of torque, and will be mated with either a five-speed manual gearbox or optional Allison automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is said to be 7.7 litres per 100km on the Chinese test cycle.

The short-wheelbase models are 4950mm long, while the LWB variants are 5700mm, and both are 1998mm wide.

Front suspension is MacPherson strut, while the rear set-up is conventional beam axle with leaf springs, all said to have been tuned at Britain’s MIRA Motor Industry Research Association) research and development facility.

The range will feature load capacity of between nine and 14 cubic metres and a payload of up to 1.8 tonnes.

The four passenger van variants will include the 11-passenger short wheelbase with standard roof as well as a 15-passenger long wheel base variant in either standard roof or high roof configuration and an 11-passenger long wheel base luxury model.

The vans shown at the Melbourne truck show carried ‘SAIC Motor’ badges on the back doors. Pricing and other details will be confirmed closer to launch.

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