Tony O'Kane | Oct 17, 2011

Australian importer WMC Group has announced that it is withdrawing as local distributor for Chinese brand Foton.

Foton, which is preparing to launch the P201 ute dual-cab ute next year, is reportedly unable to meet WMC's demands for lower pricing and better quality control.

WMC is also concerned about Foton's lack of brand cachet, as well as the reputation of the company's underwhelming dual-cab, the SUP.

"We have withdrawn from the Distribution Agreement for a number of important reasons, most significantly uncompetitive pricing, particularly on the back of an unstable US Dollar and as a result of Japanese manufacturers lowering prices," said Jason Pecotic, CEO of WMC Group.

"The other aspect that particularly worried us was that, despite Foton's insistence on premium pricing for the upcoming P201 model, the fact is it has no history and given the previous model (SUP) has had quality issues which WMC has been monitoring closely with the South African importer, we don't believe this product can command a premium price," he said.

It leaves Foton's future in this market uncertain.

Should it find other distribution arrangements, the P201 was expected to arrive with a range of Euro V compliant diesel and petrol engines, among them a Cummins-built 2.8 litre turbodiesel. A Getrag five-speed manual transmission, with a ZF six-speed auto to join the range later, was also expected.

"Despite protracted negotiations with Foton they would not meet the pricing model that we believe was appropriate for a vehicle such as this in the Australian market," Mr Pecotic said.

"In our view this [price] would be 30 percent below its Japanese rivals."

A replacement Australian distributor for the Foton P201 has been announced.

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