LDV’s more passenger-car focused sister company, MG, made headlines earlier this year when it entered the top 10 automakers in Australia – the first Chinese-backed brand to ever do so.
Then, MG’s key rival, GWM and its Haval SUV division came knocking at the door, most recently entering the top 10 for the month of October, but still needing to outrank BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan before it can challenge Volkswagen for outright 10th position for the year.
With such stellar performances from these Chinese upstarts brought about by an influx of new and electrified product lineups, the question is how long until LDV is knocking on the door of Australia’s top ten too?
Currently the brand ranks behind Tesla and Suzuki, as well as GWM and the aforementioned rivals, etching in 12,937 units so far in 2022. But LDV’s Australian general manager, Dinesh Chinnappa, told CarsGuide at the launch of the electric eT60 there are big things to come for LDV both next year and into the future.
“We’re targeting big volumes for next year,” he said, “We’re seeing big numbers for T60 Max, we’d be disappointed not to see 15,000 units of T60 in 2023.”
He was also bullish on the combustion T60’s chances against GWM’s hero ute, the Cannon.
“They’ve built a good ute – it’s a fine ute – but it doesn’t offer 500Nm and we do – I think for commercial ute buyers those are important numbers,” he said.
With the T60 Max targeting a 15,000-unit tally next year, it would easily eclipse this year’s sales figure (currently 4588 units to the end of October) and could nearly triple volume for that model.
And that’s not taking into account the “significant” amount of interest the brand has received thus far for its new electrified range which it expects will be picked up primarily by fleet operators with low- or zero-emissions vehicle requirements.
“The volume potential is obviously there for the eT60 – this will form the backbone for our EV sales,” Mr Chinnappa said.
The brand’s hopes don’t only sit with its commercial range, with the Mifa luxury people mover also arriving at the same time to take the fight to the dominant Kia Carnival in the people mover segment, whilst also filling a gap left by the departing Honda Odyssey and slow-selling Toyota Granvia.
“With the Mifa I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised with the sales numbers. The combustion version will go up against the Carnival, it’s at a similar price-point, but we won’t overtake in the short term,” Mr Chinnappa said.
“We have nothing but respect for the Carnival, but we’ll establish a foundation there, and at some point in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to give it a shake.”
Despite its move into a more passenger-oriented luxury space with the Mifa, Mr Chinnappa also confirmed the Australian division was unable to add the mid-size D60 which sits under the large D90 SUV in China to bolster is sales aspirations.
“We would have taken it, but it wasn’t right hand drive,” he said.
To the future, LDV says its Chinese manufacturer, Maxus and its SAIC parent company were receptive to the needs of Australian consumers, with Mr Chinnappa saying the brand’s relative success in Australia has given it a louder voice in Shanghai.
“We’re important, they listen to us. On the next-gen ute they came to us a year and a half ago asking us what we wanted to have,” he said.
“We’re working on a 4×4 electric ute for the next generation,” he said but drew the line at hydrogen for the time being, despite Maxus offering a hydrogen version of the Mifa people mover overseas.
“It’s possible we can be offered hydrogen from Maxus, but no, we haven’t had that conversation with them yet. We will be having those conversations though: What does tomorrow look like?”