The Chinese company that has quickly become a household word in the van market in New Zealand will launch its first workhorse ute in July at a hugely competitive starting price of $29,990, including GST.
LDV’s four-wheel-drive double-cab will be available in two specifications – Comfort and Luxury – and followed later in the year by a two-wheel-drive single-cab. Two-wheel-drive double-cabs will arrive next year. The ute range is badged T60 and is similar in size to the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.
Entry into the one-tonne ute market is another step in the expansion plans LDV – Leyland DAF Vehicles – outlined almost a year ago. An SUV based on the T60 is due in 2018. More vans, including electric (EV) offerings, are coming.
LDV distributor Rick Cooper – the former Taupo mayor, who also handles South Korean brand Ssangyong – says his dealers are queueing up for the new range of utes.
“Here is a four-wheel-drive with a 2.8-litre engine, a six-speed gearbox, a bigger and deeper rear tray than rivals, a 360-degree camera, variable cruise control, lane departure warning, 10-inch touchscreen …
“I love it when you take a closer look at the build of the T60 and see what they’ve done. The bonnet lifts on struts, there’s no need for a rod to hold it up; there are anti-rust drain holes here and there … the attention to detail is excellent.
“That $29,990 includes GST. I’m proud to be able to bring the T60 to New Zealand for that – I believe it’s a fair price.”
Cooper has a pre-production left-hand-drive T60 at his headquarters in Taupo. It’s a development mule for the NZ production models, to be fitted out with after-market NZ-made products, things like towbars and bed liners.
“We won’t work with China on things like that – we want to support New Zealand businesses,” says LDV-Ssangyong marketing head Warren Willmot.
Under the bonnet of the T60 is a Euro5-rated, four-cylinder 2.8-litre turbo-diesel from Italian company VM Motori. It’s good for 110kW/360Nm and is mated to either a six-speed automatic gearbox or six-speed manual.
LDV is owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation – SAIC – the ninth-largest carmaker and number 48 on the global Fortune 500. SAIC is owned by the Chinese Government.
The Comfort T60 with its cloth seats will be $29,990; Luxury and its leather interior and other goodies is likely to be upwards of $36,000. While the T60 shares components with Fiat, for instance, its chassis is home-grown by SAIC, says Cooper.
One of the T60 variants in the future mix is almost 5.7 metres long, with a tray roughly 300mm longer than that of the upcoming double-cab. LDV says it’s the longest one-tonne production truck in the world.