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Driven: LDV T60 chases five per cent segment share

T ball: The LDV T60 recently achieved a five-star crash safety rating from ANCAP.

T60 ute the core for Ateco’s enormous growth plan for LDV

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LDV logo1 Nov 2017

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

ATECO Automotive has again pinned its Australian volume aspirations on the LDV T60 ute, revealing a Volkswagen Amarok-challenging 5.0 per cent segment share target for the Chinese-built dual-cab ute that launches locally this month.

Speaking at the national media launch of the T60 in western New South Wales this week, LDV public relations consultant Edward Rowe declared it was “very difficult” to nominate sales figures for the new ute given the growth of the class.

However, the nominated market share target of 5.0 per cent for 2018 would equate to between 8000 and 10,000-plus annual sales for the T60, which this month becomes available in two dual-cab diesel-only four-wheel drive (4x4) variants with manual or automatic, for between $30,516 and $36,831 driveaway“The reason (LDV) doesn’t want to be nailed down to figures is quite straightforward,” Mr Rowe said.

“This market sector, particularly the 4x4 sector, is extremely dynamic at the moment. It’s dynamic in its rate of growth, and it’s dynamic with the shift of buying patterns within that market sector.

“(But) since its launch in 2015, LDV has increased its sales 40 per cent from 2015 to 2016, and so far this year has increased its sales by just over 40 per cent from the same period last year, which gives us about 5.0 per cent of the van market.

“(LDV) would be extremely happy ... if we took the same 5.0 per cent of the ute market sometime around the end of next year, so that’s the sort of figure we’re looking at. But to be more concise than that is a little difficult.”

LDV sold 767 vehicles in 2015, rising to 1542 last year when its G10 van and people-mover range joined the V80 van and cab-chassis. According to September VFACTS results, LDV has achieved 1698 sales with a quarter of the year to go.

Over the same period this year, the pick-up and cab-chassis (PU/CC) 4x4 segment has increased by 10.3 per cent year-on-year to 121,849 units year-to-date, placing the segment on track to push beyond 200,000 sales this year.

In terms of overall volume and segment share, while the Ford Ranger (28,026/23.0 per cent respectively) leads the class year-to-date, Mr Rowe’s prediction for the T60 would place it beside the Amarok (6557/5.4 per cent).

“This obviously is going to be about a transformation of LDV in Australia, simply because we’re going into a major market sector,” Mr Rowe added.

“At the moment we’re dealing in the van sector (with) 16,000 sales (annually) or a little over that. It’s about 2.0 per cent of the market. The 4x4 ute market (has) achieved 13.7 per cent of the market, or 108,000 vehicles (to September 2017).

“That ute market sector has grown so far this year by more than the entire van sector, so the potential for Ateco and the potential for its dealers to expand is considerable. Our opportunity for growth is enormous.”

Mr Rowe claimed that the T60 Pro and T60 Luxe would target three main types of customers covering “about 80 per cent” of the segment, but cab-chassis and petrol-engined versions of the LDV ute would be added next year.

“There’s a traditional business user, and that market is pretty stable, there hasn’t been a large number of people suddenly deciding to go into business with utes,” he continued.

“They want a product they can trust (and) they’re probably the most conservative group in this market sector. But the rapidly-growing group, obviously, is the family and recreational user. Replacing a traditional car or an SUV because of the activities they want to do … they want the ute to have the same features and equipment as the car they had.

“Then there’s the interesting group, the crossover customer. They want to use it for the business, but they also want to be able to use the vehicle for the weekend.

“We felt that the biggest platform for us to start with would be the traditional ute buyer, but the features and equipment in this vehicle means that they’re falling into the family and recreational user (category) who are buying the more luxurious versions.”

However, the T60 would not target the likes of Ranger and Amarok specifically, but rather more affordable models.

“Our main rivals are Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara,” he continued.

“The sort-of middle range vehicles. You have obviously got two vehicles at the head of this market sector who are very forcefully in control of their volume.

We see a lot opportunity in those middle-ranking vehicles. And then the sort of customers we’ll be talking to, I’m sure we’ll poach a few from those top-end.”

The T60 includes a VM Motori-sourced 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine producing 110kW at 3400rpm and 360Nm between 1600rpm and 2800rpm, linked to a dual-range six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

Kerb weight ranges between 1950kg and 2060kg, with payload of between 815kg and 1025kg, plus a 3000kg braked towing capacity across the range.

The Triton is the cheapest Japanese-badged dual-cab ute, advertised from $32,990 driveaway at the time of writing, with a 133kW/430Nm 2.4-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder, standard six-speed manual or optional five-speed auto, up to 1965kg kerb weight, 935kg payload and 3100kg towing capacity.

However, it lacks the 17-inch alloy wheels, side steps, tub liner, rear parking sensors and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity standard in the T60 Pro.

Both T60s are positioned among the largest in the segment, at 5365mm long, 1900mm wide and 1852mm tall, with a 3155mm wheelbase. The class-leading Ranger totals 5362mm/1860mm/1815mm/3220mm respectively, while the Mitsubishi measures 5280mm/1815mm/1780mm/3000mm respectively.

The LDV’s tub length of 1484mm, width of 1510mm and height of 530mm also lines up similarly to the Ford’s 1549mm/1560mm/511mm.

The entry Pro features “heavy duty” double-wishbone front suspension and rear leaf springs, four-wheel disc brakes, switchable stability control, hill-descent control, six airbags, foglights, auto on/off wipers and swiveling LED headlights, air-conditioning, cloth seats and 10-inch touchscreen with twin USB ports, AM/FM radio and six speakers, in addition to the smartphone connectivity.

The $4210 premium to the Luxe adds an on-demand rear differential lock with softer suspension, a rear sports bar, chrome grille, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, electric-fold and heated door mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel, climate control air-conditioning and leather trim with heated and electrically adjustable front seats.

Mr Rowe said that it was “interesting” to note the difference in forecast sales compared with initial dealership interest in the T60 Pro and T60 Luxe.

“Pro and Luxe, manual and auto, we were sort of expecting ... to be selling about 60 per cent Pro, 40 per cent Luxe, and manual-to-auto split somewhere 50:50,” he said.

“It’s very, very early days, but we’re looking at about 75-to-80 per cent of the orders so far are Luxe and auto. Manual is just fading away. The market is shifting quite forcefully towards auto.” Mr Rowe also emphasised that the level of specification offered in the top-spec Chinese ute was comparable to $50,000-plus Japanese-badged diesel dual-cab utes.

However, while a blind-spot monitor, rear parking sensors and reversing camera are standard across the range, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) would not be available until sometime next year.

Although safety testing authority ANCAP will not begin enforcing mandatory AEB for five-star performances until next year, Mr Rowe said that given the T60 had already achieved a five-star rating, “it will have a significant effect on sales” for private companies and government who require a maximum rating for worker occupational, health and safety (OH&S).

Capped-price servicing will not be on the cards, Mr Rowe said, but LDV has extended its warranty to five years or 130,000km for the T60 only, including roadside assistance for that period, plus a 10-year anti-corrosion guarantee.

2017 LDV T60 driveaway pricing
Pro$30,516
Pro (a)$32,621
Luxe$34,726
Luxe (a)$36,831

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