New ute en­try mocks high NZ prices


New Zealand’s im­porter of Chi­nese-built LDV ve­hi­cles is con­fi­dent of a pe­riod of strong growth thanks to ar­rival of a new model in the coun­try’s most crowded ve­hi­cle seg­ment – utes.

The ve­hi­cle is the LDV T60, which is built in China by SAIC Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion Ltd, which owns the for­mer Bri­tish com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle brand LDV.

It will achieve sales growth in New Zealand be­cause it is be­ing of­fered at prices that make a mock­ery of the rec­om­mended re­tail prices of other utes cur­rently on sale here, says Taupo­head­quar­tered Great Lake Mo­tor Dis­trib­u­tors.

‘‘For too long New Zealan­ders have been pay­ing too much for over-priced, over-hyped utes,’’ said LDV sales and mar­ket­ing man­ager War­ren Will­mot at a func­tion in down­town Auck­land this week.

‘‘The T60 will re-set the ute mar­ket. This is a dou­ble-cab four­wheel drive model with all the re­quired lux­ury and safety spec­i­fi­ca­tion – we are con­fi­dent it will soon be awarded a five-star Ancap crash rat­ing – and it is be­ing of­fered with far more rea­son­able prices.’’

All this was mu­sic to the ears of a big con­tin­gent of 50 Chi­nese jour­nal­ists and nu­mer­ous SAIC ex­ec­u­tives who had been spe­cially flown to Auck­land for a cel­e­bra­tory din­ner to of­fi­cially recog­nise the ar­rival of the T60, the brand’s first SUV the D90, and an all-elec­tric ver­sion of the LDV V80 van, called EV80.

Great Lake Mo­tor Dis­trib­u­tors is a favourite with SAIC be­cause New Zealand boasts eas­ily the big­gest mar­ket share in the world for the LDV vans, so it was no sur­prise when this year the com­pany was named World Dis­trib­u­tor of the Year.

Does this mean there’s now an ex­pec­ta­tion that Great Lake will do the same with the T60, which is the first of the three new LDV mod­els to ar­rive in New Zealand? Could be.

This ute, which is avail­able in dou­ble-cab 4WD 2.8-litre tur­bod­iesel form, with six-speed man­ual and au­to­matic trans­mis­sions, and with Elite and Lux­ury lev­els of spec­i­fi­ca­tion, is be­ing of­fered with re­tail prices rang­ing from $33,350 for an Elite man­ual through to $40,250 for a Lux­ury auto.

Th­ese are ex­tremely favourable prices when com­pared to the bigselling Toy­ota Hilux and Ford Ranger utes which carry RRPs from $43,990 through to close to $70,000 for the dou­ble-cab 4WD well­side mod­els.

Not only that, but the T60s are be­ing of­fered with a five-year 130,000km fac­tory war­ranty with road­side as­sist – and the war­ranty is trans­ferrable when the ute is sold to new own­ers.

At the din­ner, Great Lake man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rick Cooper de­scribed the ute mar­ket as the most crowded seg­ment in New Zealand’s new ve­hi­cle mar­ket.

‘‘The com­pe­ti­tion is vi­brant – which ex­plains why seven of New Zealand’s 10 top-sell­ing new ve­hi­cles are utes. With the T60 we want to in­crease that num­ber to eight,’’ he said.

‘‘Our first two ship­ments of the ute were sold out be­fore they ar­rived. A third ship­ment is sell­ing out. We’re con­fi­dent the T60 is good enough to se­cure a firm hold in the ute mar­ket.’’

The new D90 seven-seater SUV, which is pow­ered by a 2-litre tur­bocharged petrol en­gine, is sched­uled to be launched in New Zealand early next year. No prices have been an­nounced for the ve­hi­cle, which was on dis­play at the Auck­land din­ner.

Also on dis­play was the EV80, which will be avail­able as a panel van, a cab/chas­sis, and as a 10-seater minibus. This ve­hi­cle, which is ex­pected to be on sale be­fore the end of this year, will of­fer a range on a full charge of up to 180km.

SAIC is spend­ing US$3 bil­lion on elec­tric ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment, War­ren Will­mot told guests. ‘‘They are putting China at the fore­front of EV de­vel­op­ment – it’s very ex­cit­ing.’’

At present LDV com­petes in 4 per cent of New Zealand’s new ve­hi­cle mar­ket with the G10 and V80 vans. Ar­rival of the ute, the SUV and the EV will in­crease the pres­ence to 30 per cent.

‘‘All this means we’re on the brink of be­ing a vol­ume con­tender,’’ he added.

The LDV D90 SUV is ex­pected to be launched in New Zealand early next year.

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