FOTON TUNLAND: New Dealers sign on, Electronic Stability Control coming, mining package announced.
Chinese carmaker Foton has been given a boost in Australia, with local distributor FAA Automotive adding two new Tunland dealerships in New South Wales.
The new dealerships, in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown and in Port Macquarie on the mid-north coast, bring the brand's total number of Australian retail points to 21.
FAA General Manager Paul Vuko said the company expects to have around 30 dealers on the roster by the end of 2013, covering all states and territories.
For now, if you're in Melbourne and eager to get into a Tunland, your nearest dealership is 366 kilometres away in Wagga Wagga.
The expansion will be an important leg-up for the brand's Australian aspirations, with just 105 sales secured since the Tunland's launch in November last year.
The Tunland has likely been a tricky model to move: starting at $28,000, it's more expensive than its Chinese compatriot Great Wall, but a lot cheaper than segment leaders like HiLux, Navara, and Ranger.
The pickup packs technologies from well-regarded suppliers, including Cummins, Getrag and Bosche, but key features like side/curtain airbags, stability control and traction control are nowhere to be found.
But, speaking with TMR this week, FAA marketing boss Richard Power spoke of growing interest in the Tunland and new features on the horizon.
"We and our Toowoomba dealer did well at the big ag show Agquip in Gunnedah last week, selling around five [Tunland pickups]," Mr Power said.
"[There has been] big interest from the farmers who were very attracted by the Cummins engine, a brand they know well in various agricultural equipment they run."
Electronic Stability Control will be added to the Tunland in the first half of 2014, although it's unclear if that alone will be enough to lift the pickup's ANCAP safety rating from three to four stars.
Power added that FAA Automotive is "very active with the Chinese on these matters", and discussions on improving the Tunland's credentials are ongoing.
The local range will get another boost in the near future, with single-cab/chassis models expected to hit Australia in the coming months, joining the existing 4x4 and 4x2 dual-cab models.
In the mean time, the company is stepping up its marketing in the mining industry, revealing a new 'generic mine-spec' version of the Tunland that will be demonstrated at sites around Australia.
The Mine Spec Tunland's features include a steel tube external ROPS (Rollover Protection System) comprising an over-cab bar structure and a steel bull bar with aerial mounts, a heavy-duty anodised aluminium dropside tray, integrated UHF radio and various safety accessories and customised lighting required on mine sites.
“This Tunland Mine Spec is a base evaluation template which can be customised to an individual mine or mining company needs,” FAA director Grant Phelan said.
Phelan talked up the benefits of the Tunland's 2.8 litre turbodiesel Cummins engine, singling out the cast-iron cylinder head and thermostat-controlled electric radiator fans as features ideal "for a tough life in the mines".
“Tunland’s engine also does duty in Foton’s bigger trucks up to 4.5 tonnes GVM so is understressed in Tunland, a further boon to the Cummins’ longevity reputation. A steel plate sump guard is also standard on Tunland 4x4," Phelan said.
The Mine Spec Tunland tray’s enclosed load floor measures 1.78m long and 1.805m wide, with 250mm high dropsides, a 440mm high front wall, six floor flush-mounted tie-down rings under a rubber mesh mat, perimeter external tie-rails, taillight guards and reversing sensors.
There's also a fire extinguisher, reflective safety triangles, heavy-duty rubber wheel chocks, wheel nut torque check lugs, aerials for UHF radio and high over-crest sight flag, and wiring for all exterior lights on with engine running.
But, while the Mine Spec Tunland packs an appealing feature set, Foton could have a hard time finding sales among the growing number of mining fleets demanding five-star ANCAP safety ratings.
Elsewhere in the Foton family, Australia could soon see a light commercial van, a mini-bus and an SUV, all of which are on FAA's medium-term schedule.
- Foton Tunland Quality 4x2 - $28,000
- Foton Tunland Luxury 4x2 - $28,500
- Foton Tunland Quality 4x4 - $34,500
- Foton Tunland Luxury 4x4 - $35,000