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Sounds like the Chinese electric ute

LDV LCV: The T60 pick-up will enter one of Australia’s most hotly-contested segments when it arrives here in October.

LDV appears to be working on an electrified T60 pick-up in China

LDV logo19 Apr 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

UNLESS our ears deceive us, China’s LDV is developing an electrified version of its all-new one-tonne T60 pick-up in what would be a world first in the light-commercial vehicle segment.

And if our eyes did not deceive us, an extra-long “mega-cab” version of the dual-cab T60 was also wandering around the Chinese proving ground roads while we were there on the eve of this week’s Shanghai motor show.

The distinctive low-decibel whine of electric motivation was the evidence when a heavily disguised dual-cab T90 ute was accidentally driven past a handful of Australian journalists by test drivers at LDV parent company SAIC Motor’s proving ground in the back-blocks of China this week.

The ute, which is set to take on the likes of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger in Australia from September this year, is supposed to be powered by internal combustion engines such as a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel developed by Italian engine-maker VM Motori for Australia.

While VM Motori’s engineers seem to have to a large extent tamed the rattle of its engines in recent years – including those in the latest Holden Colorado and Trailblazer – it is hard to believe that any amount of refinement could render that engine down to a gentle whine as GoAuto heard at the ginormous proving ground of China’s biggest motor company where we were invited to drive the conventional LDV T60 and vehicles from sister brand MG’s range.

Quizzed about the observation, no representative of LDV or its parent company SAIC Motor argued with the assumption that such a vehicle was under development at the top-secret proving ground where China’s biggest motor manufacturer – 6.5 million vehicles last year – develops its vehicles for both domestic and export markets alongside those from joint-venture partner in China, General Motors.

SAIC has a stated policy of developing new-energy variants of all its new models in response to climate change.

These powertrains include low-fuel-consumption petrol units developed in conjunction with GM, to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric variants.

SAIC executives argue that its product program is driven primarily by success in its domestic market where electric vehicles have a clear future.

Big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have written local laws discouraging internal combustion engines in downtown areas to improve air quality while encouraging alternative energy vehicles.

To Australians, the thought of an electrified ute makes little sense – especially commercial sense – but in China, where one-tonne utes have been frowned upon in downtown major cities, it could find a niche.

Just don’t expect the all-electric LDV T60 at your neighbourhood LDV dealer anytime soon.

The stretched mega-cab version of the T60 might also take a while to reach Australia as LDV importer Ateco Automotive does not have it on its new-model list.

We will take a guess and say it might be a Middle East special.

Meanwhile, the first Australia-bound T60 utes have left the LDV production line in Wuxi, China, bound for LDV dealerships in Australia where they will join the V80 and G10 vans in the LDV line-up.

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