“One of our previous brands did a shitload of damage to ‘brand China’ by pulling out and not supplying the customers,” Neville Crichton told CarAdvice at last week’s Australian launch of the turbo-diesel LDV G10 van.
Speaking far more generously of LDV's latest offering here, Crichton said: "As far as the product goes, if you pull the badge off the LDV and put an iLoad besides it with no badging, you wouldn’t know the difference. They are as good as each other."
LDV, which will launch its own range of utes here in mid 2017, seeks to build its reputation in Australia as a Chinese manufacturer that values safety, build quality and reliability. With Crichton confirming that the upcoming LDV ute will be a five-star ANCAP-rated vehicle and available in a variety of body styles and configurations.
Even so, he freely admits that there are lingering issues with vehicles imported from China.
“There are issues with the perception of Chinese vehicles and I think our predecessors did a lot of damage, and its more perception in the market [rather than in reality]. These [LDV] guys are the biggest manufacturers in China. They’ve learnt, quality-wise, from VW and GM - they know how to build a car.”
Compared with Great Wall - which is now back in Australia with the Steed ute under Haval management, after previously being distributed by the Sydney-based Ateco company - Crichton says the LDV vehicles are world’s apart.
“We know the issues with our previous brand and these things are giving us no problems.”
Asked why LDV won’t offer longer than a three-year warranty to further back-up its claims of reliability and durability, Crichton said he didn’t feel it was necessary for now.
“We don’t need to at this stage. We will sell an extended warranty if they want it.”
LDV currently has 43 dealers in Australia, with that expected to rise to around 80 by the end of 2017, helped along not just by the upcoming ute, but also large and small SUVs and additional van models.