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Exclusive: JMC set to launch Vigus ute from $23,990

Viva las Vigus: The Vigus ute will be the first vehicle to be offered by JMC – one of China’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers.

Chinese car-maker JMC to enter Australian marketplace in April with Vigus utility


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3 Feb 2015

CHINA’S Jiangling Motors Corporation (JMC) will launch onto the Australian new-vehicle market with its Vigus dual-cab ute in April, revealing a competitive starting price of $23,990 driveaway and a target of 2000 sales this year.

The first shipment of utilities – offered with the choice of either petrol or diesel power, the latter priced from $26,990 driveaway – is scheduled to arrive next month through the Chinese auto-maker’s Australian distributor Jiangxi Jiangling Motors Import and Export Co (JMIE), with sales commencing soon after despite the absence of retail outlets at this stage.

In an exclusive interview with GoAuto this week, JMIE general manager Feng Wang said the company was still negotiating with potential dealers around Australia, with outlets in Sydney, the Gold Coast, Perth and Melbourne close to being signed up.

Regional locations are also on the radar, with JMIE working to secure as many as 15 retail outlets in total inside the next four weeks, and 30 dealerships before June as it works towards its ambitious initial 2000-unit target – more ute sales than established rival brands Great Wall (1909) and Foton (537) managed in 2014.

A flagship dealer located at 26 Parramatta Road in Sydney’s inner-western suburb of Croydon is expected to open in May.

“We want 10 to 15 dealers before March, and then another 15 by June,” Mr Wang said.

Mr Wang said he was fully aware of just how competitive the Australian new-vehicle market has become and that sales of rival Chinese brands had taken a hit in recent times, but is pushing on regardless with high expectations.

“It’s going to be a challenge, because the Australian dollar is depreciating and it’s a very developed and competitive market,” he said.

“It won’t be easy, but we are quite ready to be very patient and follow a long-term strategy.”

Mr Wang said the high-quality product, competitive pricing and the fact that JMIE is a subsidiary of JMC will ensure its success in Australia, whereas other brands managed by independent distributors have found the going tough.

“With 30 dealerships operating we think we can do 2000 for the first year,” he said.

“JMC is one of the leading automobile manufacturers and brands in China. We’re a more premium brand than Great Wall, Foton and JAC.

“We specialise in the commercial segment and JMC has a good background as far as our product development system goes – from design to quality control – thanks to a joint venture with Ford and Isuzu.

“So we can deliver very good performance and quality – and we think this is an advantage.

“The second advantage we have is the pricing itself. In China, JMC is priced 15 per cent higher than others in the segment such as Great Wall and JAC. But to sell in Australia we will ensure aggressive pricing – the same as Great Wall and Foton.

“And finally, as a brand and manufacturer we’re doing it ourselves – from the dealerships to the importation and distribution. It’s a good way to keep a continuous support from the manufacturer to the market.

“As a manufacturer we will never say goodbye to the dealers we will give continuous support to them.

“This means we can also offer great aftersales service, with technical support to convince Australian consumers that we are not for one day but for the long term, and we will care about the customers.”

The $23,990 driveaway price for Vigus will put buyers into a petrol-powered dual-cab 4x2 version, while the diesel will start $3000 upstream.

Both powertrains will have a 4x4 driveline option as well.

As seen in a multitude of Chinese-built vehicles, including Great Wall’s V240 ute, the petrol engine offered in the Vigus is the ubiquitous Mitsubishi-sourced 2.4-litre four-cylinder, producing around 100kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

The diesel, meanwhile, is a Ford-sourced turbocharged ‘Puma’ engine, also displacing 2.4 litres and with four cylinders, and good for around 90kW and 290Nm.

A single-cab body style is expected to arrive early next year. An automatic transmission is not available, with both engines for now relying solely on a five-speed manual gearbox.

Documents seen by GoAuto show that both boxed tray and cab chassis variants have received approval for sale in Australia, and LX and higher-spec SLX model grades will be available.

Standard safety features across the range should include dual airbags, ABS brakes (with electronic brake-force distribution), rear parking sensors and front and rear foglights – a three-star (out of five) ANCAP rating is anticipated – while creature comforts run to air-conditioning, power windows/mirrors, remote central locking, a CD stereo and MP3 connectivity.

The SLX will add a DVD player and imitation leather seats, among other items.

The standard wheel size will be 15-inch, while 16-inch rims will be available at the higher level. A rubber-lined tray will be fitted to all variants, while typical ute body adornments such as a sports bar and side steps have also received approval.

A number of other vehicles are earmarked for the Australian market over the next three years. The Vigus will be joined next year by the Conquer commercial truck, followed by the S350 seven-seater SUV in 2017. An all-new compact SUV is due in 2018.

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