China’s biggest motor company, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), unveiled the all-new T60 one-tonne utility for its burgeoning LDV brand at the recent Guangzhou auto show in China, ahead of an Australian launch in the second half of 2017.
The T60 will be distributed in Australia by Ateco Automotive and sold through a growing national national dealership network that at the time of writing had reached almost 50 retail outlets – and which is expected to rise to at least 80 by the time the pick-up is launched here.
Both SAIC and Ateco have high hopes for the new utility, which will be pitched at tradies as a value-for-money proposition that provides a cut-price but nonetheless competent alternative for the major Thai-built Japanese and American players including the market-leading Toyota HiLux and Australian-developed Ford Ranger.
It will also go head-to-head with rival Chinese brand, Great Wall, and its new-generation Steed, which at this stage is only available as a petrol or diesel dual cab with a manual gearbox, priced from $25,990 plus on-road costs for the 4×2 petrol.
The Australian launch line-up is still to be confirmed, but SAIC management have confirmed a broad range of T60 model variants will be offered in Australia, covering various body styles (including single and dual cab, the latter with an extended tray option), petrol and diesel powertrains, manual and automatic transmissions, 4×2 and 4×4 drivelines, and two suspension heights.
The Chinese manufacturer says that its “comprehensive global range will enable LDV to tailor a local market range to cover all sectors of the Australian ute market”.
The model shown in Guangzhou was a dual cab with four-wheel drive and a 2.8-litre VGT engine, details of which were still under wraps but this is expected to be a diesel (with variable geometry turbo technology) powering much of the T60 range.
LDV says the utility is built on an all-new platform with a high-tensile steel chassis protected by galvanisation, advanced wax injection and new paint processes to minimise stop chip damage. This has also prompted the company offer a 10-year warranty against corrosion.
Ateco is working with the factory to ensure entry level pricing starts below $30,000, while ensuring a high level of safety engineering and equipment goes into the utility in a bid to secure a maximum five-star crash test rating from the independent Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) – a level which is now the target for virtually all light commercial brands.
Up to six airbags will be fitted to the T60, along with “double pre-tensioning seatbelts” and a variety of electronic safety systems. Parking sensors, 360-degree cameras, a separate reversing camera and a driver fatigue alert system have also been developed for the ute.