They say Sherpa vans don’t quit… and neither do their drivers – well, here’s the proof. Vans from China’s biggest motor manufacturer are locked and loaded for launch in Australia in October after a formal sign-off ceremony in China this week.
Words: Ron Hammerton
A shipment of 120 LDV V80 vehicles produced by SAIC subsidiary Motor Commercial Vehicle Company (SMCV) will kick off the latest Chinese brand to arrive in Australia through a 45-dealer network. Importer WMC Group inked the multi-year contract to distribute the Chinese-built vans from LDV on Wednesday, adding the marque to its other Chinese brands Higer and JAC.
The vans were to have been sold under the Maxus brand in Australia, but as GoAuto reported early this month, WMC dropped that name because of a trademark clash with a range of aftermarket truck components. Instead, WMC and its Chinese partner reverted to the original British name for the company, LDV, which SAIC bought in 2009 after the UK firm crashed in the global financial crisis.
The front-drive van was originally launched in the UK in 2005 as the LDV Maxus LD100, but has since been modified, with suspension tuned by Britain’s Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA). Shanghai-based SAIC Motor is a major joint-venture partner with the two biggest western car-makers in China, General Motors and Volkswagen, producing 3.6 million vehicles last year.
The import deal, which has been in the pipeline for at least a year, was inked on Wednesday in Shanghai by WMC CEO Jason Pecotic, SMCV managing director Lan Qingsong and Shanghai Automobile Import and Export Company (SACO) general manager Zhengrong Zhang. Mr Pecotic said the multi-year arrangement signalled the Chinese company’s confidence in the Australian distributor.
The vans will both be powered by a 2.5-litre VM Motori diesel engine producing 130bhp and 245lb ft of torque. Standard features include rear barn doors, tyre-pressure monitoring, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual sliding doors and door-integrated electric entry steps.