VanAbility | VAN REVIEW -Chinese manufacturer LDV is chipping into mainstream van supply.

Chinese manufacturer LDV is chipping into mainstream van supply with a cost-competitive alternative in the form of the G10

In the world of automotive envy, it pays to remember that some buyers have no interest in which brand, model or perhaps even colour of vehicle they purchase.

Some, having bought and paid for the new vehicle that will be used by their company, struggle to remember which brand they actually ordered. And really, who can blame them, as the web-based media tends to focus on the exotic but impractical models, while leaving the light commercial vehicles that work for their living devoid of attention at the back of the dealership showroom.

Buying a work vehicle, especially when you have no interest in vehicles in general, is turning into a similar buying experience to that of replacing a washing machine or family refrigerator. Indeed, it has been suggested that where a universal specification covers most requirements, a vehicle could be bought at your local hardware store or even online, at the click of a computer keyboard.

Very few instances exist today where a manufacturer makes a bad product, and with consumer protection laws there’s a certain degree of buyer protection already in the marketplace.

Chinese manufacturer LDV increased its vehicle sales in Australia for 2017 by 67.3 percent over the previous year, and, in respect of the G10, it sold 737 versions of its people mover, eating into the market share of the Hyundai iMAX and Honda Odyssey, which both lost sales. In the van segment, sales expanded for the G10 from 471 in 2016, to 1108 in 2017, with all vans in this segment showing sales stability, and Renault Trafic and Ford Transit Custom also showing incremental growth.

Current pricing options for LDV see the G10 with turbodiesel and automatic transmission, together with cruise control and steering wheel switching for audio and Bluetooth, selling for the price of a manual at $28,990 drive-away for ABN holders. Warranty is for three years/100,000 km and it comes with 24/7 roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty.

“The auto for the price of a manual has worked extremely well for LDV because it reinforced two critical messages to potential customers – that the G10 is now available with a turbodiesel engine with a sophisticated automatic gearbox, and that it is available with an unrivalled price and specification,” explains Dinesh Chinnappa, general manager of LDV Automotive Australia.

The LDV G10’s 1.9 turbodiesel engine produces 106.5 kW with a peak torque rating of 350 Nm from 1800 rpm. Buyers can select a six-speed manual gearbox, but, as long as the offer remains open for an automatic at the same price, it seems a foregone conclusion to opt for the self-shifter. In manual form the G10 turbodiesel has an official combined fuel consumption figure of 8.3 l/100 km.

The 5.2-cubic-metre load space accepts two standard pallets and is accessed through sliding side load doors on each side. Again, there’s more choice for the rear access, between a lifting tailgate and traditional barn doors. All versions of the G10 have a payload above the one tonne benchmark.

Without looking at the styling design closely it would be easy to assume the LDV was actually a Hyundai iLOAD, but there is no connection between the two companies, suggesting that duplication by this Chinese manufacturer is merely a form of flattery.

The standard fit and finish of the interior does not quite match that of a typical Hyundai, but it’s not that far removed either. The cab interior is quiet, it’s easy to get in and out, and once seated it’s comfortable with good levels of vision all round.

There’s not much missing by way of the standard spec, with air conditioning, power steering, cruise control (in the automatic versions), power windows, electric mirrors, 16” alloy wheels, Bluetooth and a quality audio system including a large 7” LCD touchscreen.

Safety levels are looked after with electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, airbags, roll movement intervention, reverse camera, parking sensors and a tyre pressure monitoring system. If you want to option up further there is an approved list of accessories such as cargo barriers, easy load roof rack systems, load area lining kits, window kits, towbars and heavy-duty steps, as well as nudge bars and weather shields.

If your annual distance travelled is low and you don’t feel the love for a diesel four-cylinder, there is a choice of two petrol variants. The manual features a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre 105 kW engine, whilst the six-speed ZF automatic boasts a 2.0-litre, twin-cam turbocharged petrol engine that produces maximum power of 165 kW with peak torque rated at 330 Nm.

Buying a Chinese-manufactured vehicle is appealing because of the low starting price, and LDV is no exception. If you are keeping the vehicle for 10 years until you retire, the resale price is irrelevant. However, a low purchase price also results in a low resale price, and if you have a standard three to four-year replacement programme this needs to be factored in to your financial decisions.

A review of the secondhand G10s available showed pricing levels under $20,000 for a one-year-old G10 van that had completed 62,720 km, plus others with around 34,000 km selling at under $19,000.

Another point to watch when having Chinese-manufactured vehicles serviced is that of genuine parts support and availability. All too often Delivery hears of parts supplied for a standard service not being compatible with the model because of a spec change that has not been communicated by the vehicle maker. With the design of some of the engines having originated from European or Japanese makers such as Mitsubishi, but built in China under licence, it may be possible to source parts more easily by researching which Mitsubishi model used that engine in a previous model. Another word of caution here though, is that, again, parts may not be interchangeable.

LDV is distributed in Australia through ATECO Automotive, which has considerable experience in handling small volume manufacturers and employs staff that understands the marketing expectations of Australian buyers.

Of more concern to buyers is where the Chinese parent has taken the decision to control its own destiny in the Australian market and chosen to manage its own distribution and product support. Attempts to contact any responsible person employed by these manufacturers requires an unsurmountable feat of endurance on the part of the complainant. Despite having head office operations based in Australia, finding a contact number, or person to answer the phone or reply to an email, will test personal levels of patience to biblical proportions.

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