Growing Chinese brand LDV will greatly increase its presence in Australia from about the middle of this year, once the G10 people-mover and commercial van range launches in July/August.
This will grow further once the company launches its forthcoming light-commercial ute in the near future — some of the market research and evaluation for which has taken place in Australia.
The G10, which we already knew was coming here, albeit with inexact timing until now, will double LDV’s range of offerings when it arrives, which currently consists of the V80 large van and its 11-and 14-seat bus derivatives.
The people-mover version marks an upmarket shift for the brand, being designed to meet European standards. The notion of a Chinese domestic brand looking to more mature markets is not new, but LDV has some serious resources at its disposal.
It is part of China’s largest auto group, SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (SAIC). Prior to 2009, LDV was based in Britain and called Leyland DAF. SAIC also owns MG Motors and has joint-ventures in China with General Motors and Volkswagen. The State-owned company made 4.5 million vehicles in 2014.
The G10 MPV sports a 168kW/345Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, three rows of sliding seats, Bosch’s latest-generation electronic stabilisation systems, keyless start, a multi-function steering wheel, and a multimedia touch screen.
Nevertheless, it will fight entry people-movers such as the $25,990 Proton Exora and the larger SsangYong Stavic (imported by the same independent distributor as LDV, Sydney-based Ateco Automotive), which costs $29,990 drive-away in base form.
The G10 commercial van spinoff will be a rival for the Toyota HiAce and Hyundai iLoad in Australia’s largest-selling van segment, again providing strong volume opportunities.
The LDV Ute remains a mystery, though expect it to be a step up from the likes of Great Wall, which for now is imported by Ateco as well.
SAIC has sent a team of engineers to Australia to research the conditions a ute faces here, and the company clearly views Australia as an ideal test bed for its new model.
LDV has made small but important sales gains locally following its relaunch under Ateco last November. In the first quarter of 2015, LDV’s network of 30 dealers sold a total of 104 units of the V80 range. This network will grow to 40 once the G10 arrives.
Alongside Ateco’s other (relatively) acquired Chinese brand, ute-maker Foton (295 sales YTD), LDV has helped partially address the shortfall from the marked decline of Great Wall (down to 73 sales YTD, compared to 941 at the same point of 2014).
Great Wall’s days under Ateco appear numbered, especially given the local launch of its sub-brand under different distributorship is imminent. Ateco is not commenting on the speculation.