LDV has confirmed it will expand its passenger vehicle line-up in Australia over the next two years, picking the right models from a raft of new vehicles to be introduced in its home market China.
Now in its fourth year of sales down under, LDV is looking to bolster what will likely be its best sales result yet with the introduction of an all-new mid-size SUV in 2019.
“Yes, I can confirm we will be introducing the brand-new mid-size SUV in Australia, though details are yet to be confirmed,” LDV public relations spokesman Edward Rowe told Drive after the unnamed model was mentioned in a presentation.
“This is an exciting product that will complement our other SUV and ute offerings already available, though the new medium SUV will likely have added appeal in Australia. We expect it will do quite well,” he added.
Having only recently launched its new D90 large-size seven-seat SUV, the brand operated by Chinese automotive behemoth SAIC, which also owns iconic British marque MG, will begin an assault on the popular mid-size SUV market cornered by the Mazda CX-5. As Drive understands, the new SUV will be based on the Maxus Tarantula concept unveiled at the Beijing motor show this year.
Like the D90, LDV expects the new arrival to offer a five-star ANCAP rating, variety of drivetrains and a mix of premium appointments. Adding some faith, but not as much as MG’s seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, is a five-year/130,000km warranty and roadside assist program.
SAIC also confirmed last week at a media meeting in Shanghai that it will introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the mid-size SUV, but it is not yet on the cards for Australia.
“The conditions are not quite correct to bring in an electric version of the new SUV, but we’ll certainly have it ready to go when we know government and customers are ready for it. That could even be quite soon.” Rowe said.
A PHEV version of the SUV will likely be inevitable as the company expects at least 20 per cent of all sales to be alternate energy vehicles by 2020.
In total, SAIC plans to introduce at least eight new models over the next two years - or one every three months - in an aggressive attack formation that also involves SAIC’s passenger arm MG. While MG will concentrate on sporty, premium-style SUVs and sports cars, LDV will introduce larger passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles with both brands dedicated to moving on new electric platforms with advanced li-ion batteries that are more efficient compared to current technology.
LDV’s future models include a mid-size MPV built on the same platform as the mid-size SUV, small urban electric van and a ‘top-secret’ modular flexible Double E platform that will be the base for a vehicle called the M Cube. The M Cube will be a cloud-based EV and come in a variety of configurations including bespoke passenger transport, semi-autonomous delivery van or as a business cabin.
Underpinning its driverless ability, LDV says it expects to bring Level 4 autonomous driving to its commercial vehicles by 2021 but not to its passenger line-up because of the prohibitive cost of Lidar technology.
Along with familiar self-driving assistants for the highway and in traffic jams will be a self-parking mode that can park the car after the driver hops out. However, such technology is a regulation nightmare in Australia and will debut in China before figuring out local hurdles in other markets.
“For now, we’ll concentrate on bringing in the most relevant vehicles at the time for our market, which includes achieving a five-star ANCAP rating for new models like we have for the D90 and T60 in Australia,” said Rowe.
"The cars SAIC are producing now and into the future are unlike anything we're currently seeing out of China, and so while the new SUV will pack in all of the features customers expect, the value will still be there.”