China’s LDV, which has been making some progress in Australia with the T60 dual-cab ute, budget G10 van and (less so) D90 SUV under independent distributor Ateco, is poised for major expansion into various vehicle segments and every variety of electrification.
The infant (11-year old) company, part of the sprawling government-owned SAIC Motor group of Shanghai, also has startlingly ambitious plans to grow annual sales from 84,000 to 4 million, albeit over a rather elusive timeline.
The subtext is that the majority of SAIC’s volume (7.05 million sales last year) is from vehicles produced in joint-ventures with Volkswagen and GM, and it clearly wishes to establish its native brands LDV/Maxus and MG to get a bigger chunk of the revenue.
Pictured: LDV/Maxus D60, apparently due in Australia in 2020
The new LDV product includes a compact SUV called D60 replete with tough looks, LED matrix headlights, a 14-inch portrait touchscreen, head-up display, leather- and Alcantara-lined cabin, a new 124kW/250Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, a PHEV option, and an app-based system that gives you remote ventilation etc.
It’ll also come to Australia in petrol form as soon as next year, according to the company. “All the LDV products are developed for the whole world… we will have D60 in markets like Australia [as soon as 2020],” said SAIC Motor executive Wang Rui in Shanghai this week.
The other major addition is brand new large van called V90 that is aimed at Europe’s Mercedes Sprinter and Renault Master, and which replaces the old Leyland Daf-sourced V80 van. Its key markets are these European heartland areas, where they’re ubiquitous, and SAIC Motor has pumped huge money into the project.
Pictured: LDV V90, also apparently due in Australia in 2020
It’s new from the ground up, is LHD and RHD, has remote vehicle management software, cutting-edge infotainment and app-based services, active safety tech such as AEB, radar cruise control and lane assist, and promises five-star NCAP crash protection. Fingers crossed on that.
It’s also fitted with new in-house Euro 6d-TEMP 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with 130kW of power and 400Nm of torque at 1500rpm, a Bosch ECU and either six-speed automatic or manual transmissions. An electric version to rival the Sprinter is imminent, with big fleets on the radar.
The V90 will be available with single or twin rear tyres, FWD or RWD, various wheelbases and roof heights, a bus, a tractor head, a cab chassis… up to 100,000 configurations including all the colours, wheels etc.
Pictured: LDV G20, and the hydrogen FCEV drivetrain
“It’s equal to European competitors. Yes, Mercedes Sprinter is very well recognised and top-class quality and we are not saying we are equal to them, but we are very comparative with a any Korean, Japanese, French or Italian product, and at the same level as the Ford Transit,” one SAIC exec told us.
It will come to Australia to replace the V80 from late 2020, and might give some of those aforementioned rivals some worries.
The other thing from an Australian perspective is the new Euro 6d diesel engine will be added to the T60 dual-cab and body-on-frame D90 SUV (currently just a 2.0-turbo-petrol despite its bulk and target market) next year too. The T60 currently has a VM Motori 2.8-litre unit made under license.
Pictured: The EV30 electric can (above) and Australian T60 ute (below)
There’s also a bunch of stuff we saw in Shanghai this week beyond these, including a facelifted G10 people-mover spinoff called G20, with cabin ambience and tech that make it a cut-price Mercedes-Benz V-Class contender for airport valets. Whether we get the G20 in Australia or just keep the cheaper G10 seems up in the air, according to Ateco. Thoughts?
There’s also a 650km-range hydrogen fuel-cell (FCEV) G20 derivative about to enter production, showing the scope and scale of SAIC Motor today.
Another new model is a small electric urban van called Maxus/LDV EV30 with a 70kW/220Nm motor and the choice of 35kWh or 52.5kWh batteries, promising either 280km or 400km range (WLTP test will render a smaller range). It’s set for China and Euro EV hubs, like Norway, soon.
It’s pretty clear that this is one brand to ponder… What the company's Australia showrooms look like by the end of 2020 is anyone's guess, but if SAIC Motor can deliver on its plan, it'll give the market something to chew over.