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New in 2019: Quiet year ahead for LCVs in Australia

Updates, new variants on the cards for Australian light-commercial market

Outlook logo29 Jan 2019

IN RECENT years Australian car buyers have fallen in love with light-commercial vehicles (LCVs) to the point where the Toyota HiLux has now recorded a hat-trick of being the best-selling new car in the country for the past three years.
 
Furthermore, two other pick-ups – the Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton – finished 2018 in the top ten best-sellers list at second and seventh place respectively, reaffirming the popularity of utes in Australia.
 
Last year proved to be an exciting 12 months for the LCV market with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Ford Ranger Raptor, Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 all arriving locally for the first time, however 2019 looks to be a more sedate with only updates and special editions the main headliners.
 
Let’s take a look at exactly what to expect in the LCV segment for 2019.
 
Light-commercial vehicles
 
ARGUABLY the most significant LCV model to touch down in Australia in 2019 happens at the start of the year, with the arrival of the heavily updated Mitsubishi Triton in January.
 
As mentioned, the Triton was the third-best selling pick-up in Australia last year, with buyers attracted to its durability and sharp pricing.
 
The first update in its current life cycle, the refreshed Triton ushers in radical new styling, enhanced standard equipment and an upward trend in price to compete more closely with the likes of the HiLux and Ranger.
 
Following in February, Ram will introduce at turbo-diesel version of its smallest (but still huge) 1500 pick-up, following the release of the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 version in the middle of 2018.
 
The new turbo-diesel 1500 employs the same 3.0-litre oil-burning V6 as in the Maserati Levante, and while power figures are yet to be detailed, Ram expects its output to be slightly less than the Levante’s 202kW/600Nm.
 
Indian car-maker Mahindra is bolstering its Pik-Up line-up in the first quarter by offering buyers of the 4x2 and 4x4 S6 Cab Chassis grade the Tradie Pack, which bundles together a general-purpose aluminium tray, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control for an extra $2000.
 
All Mahindra Pik-Ups are still powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine outputting 103kW/330Nm, paired to a six-speed manual gearbox.
 
Mahindra will also introduce a special-edition Pik-Up in the second quarter, called the Black Series.
 
After returning to the local market in December with three models, SsangYong Australia will bolster its range of Musso pick-ups with a more workhorse-oriented long-wheelbase version, which adds a longer tray, leaf-sprung rear suspension for 30 per cent greater payload capacity, and a slight bump in torque from 400Nm to 420Nm.
 
The LWB will be offered in three model grades – EX, ELX and Ultimate.
 
Meanwhile, the standard-wheelbase Musso which currently also comes in three model grades, will be introduced in entry-level ES 4x2 grade, which the company’s local arm hopes to introduce for under $30,000 driveaway.
 
The ES will feature the SWB’s coil suspension and 133kW/400Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine.
 
Following the release of the all-new Sprinter large van in October, Mercedes-Benz Vans will release a number of new variants in 2019 to further broaden its appeal and usability.
 
Starting in the middle of the year, the 12-seater Sprinter Transfer Bus will arrive to take on the likes of the Renault Master Bus and ferry a dozen people around in style.
 
Arriving later in the third quarter, an all-wheel-drive powertrain will land, joining the existing front- and rear-wheel-drive variants, sure to appeal to grey nomads looking to retrofit soft-road campers, as well as company drivers who regularly encounter harsh road conditions.
 
Also arriving around the same time will be the Sprinter Tractor Head to attract fleet sales from RV and campervan companies who want to use the trusty Merc as the donor vehicle for their camping and adventure vehicles.
 
Lastly from Mercedes, the V-Class people mover is also due for an update in the third quarter, after having first gone on sale in May 2015.
 
The new V-Class will be redesigned to more closely reflect the styling of the rest of the Mercedes range, which the company says will give it “an even stronger visual presence”.
 
Renault has also this month introduced a ‘Trader Life’ version of its Trafic van, which is a short-wheelbase model that strips back some equipment but still leaves plenty of gear with its lower price point – just $29,990 driveaway.
 
What's coming
 
Mitsubishi Triton – January
Ram 1500 TD – February
Mahindra Pik-Up Single Cab 4x2 and 4x4 Tradie Packs – Q1
Mahindra Pik-Up Limited Edition Black Series – Q2
Renault Trafic Trader Life – January
SsangYong Musso LWB – Q2
SsangYong Musso ES SWB – Q2
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 12-seat Transfer Bus – mid-2019
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter AWD – Q3
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Tractor Head – Q3
Mercedes-Benz V-Class – Q3

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