Foton is preparing itself to dive headlong into the hyper-competitive dual-cab market come 2021, at which point the company will have a high-tech new model.
The next-generation Foton Tunland ute is gearing up for an Australian launch, as the Chinese giant begins localised testing later this year.
The Tunland, which is Foton’s entry into the very competitive Australian dual-cab market, will be completely replaced with an all-new model in the second quarter of 2021. It's expected to come with all the latest safety technologies, and achieve a five-star ANCAP rating.
Talking to CarAdvice at the launch of its new truck range and the facelifted Tunland, general manager Robert Zhang confirmed the company won’t be putting too much emphasis on the current (just updated) model, instead taking 18 months to better prepare for the launch of its all-new model, whilst concentrating on the truck business.
“In this market, you have to win everything, you can’t lose out on any safety features,” Zhang said.
There’s a good chance the new Tunland will remain dual-cab only, with Zhang admitting margins for single-cab models are too slim to make a business case.
“The single cab we brought in two years ago, but the cost-effectiveness is a real problem, [there are] no margins. We might not bring the single cabs in, this is yet to be decided at the factory.”
Meanwhile, the warranty (currently three years/100,000km) will also improve.
“Next-gen might be changed to four or five years according to common practice in the country. We definitely need to plan for the next-gen, make it full of safety features, [five-star] ANCAP rating, this segment is very competitive, if you cannot do good, then you do nothing.”
The current Tunland uses a Cummins 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine with BorgWarner, Dana, Bosch and ZF components, making it a European-powered ute built in China. The next-generation will likely follow a similar design and engineering philosophy, but will be an all new model.
Foton plans to use its truck business to gain the margins it needs to subsidise its entry into the very competitive ute segment. The company currently has 22 dealers around Australia but is planning to expand that to 30 dealers by end of 2019, and 40 dealers by 2020.
It's the largest Chinese truck manufacturer, with over 300,000 sales in 2018 – plus another 60,000 in overseas markets. The company is mostly owned by the Chinese government, was founded in 1996 and currently employs roughly 40,000 workers.