Representatives on the LDV stand at this year’s CV Show were radiating confidence at the brand’s prospects for the next five years, launching new products and announcing new markets for the reborn van brand.
LDV has been owned by Chinese giant SAIC since 2010 and relaunched in the UK by Irish automotive distributors Harris Group in 2016. This year the company had a large stand at the CV Show, with 12 different vans on display and plenty of visitors crawling all over them to find out more.
Of particular interest was the EV80, a fully-electric version of the long-serving V80 mid-size van. LDV announced demonstrator programmes with high-profile customers Ikea and Royal Mail, with the first bright red electric mail van being unveiled at CV Show 2018 before hitting streets next month.
Electric investment to pay dividends
But while the current LDV range stands up reasonably well against its better-known rivals, it’s the next generation of vehicles that the company expects to see it leapfrog the opposition.
Parent company SAIC Motor is investing USD$1 billion in China’s largest electric vehicle battery manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (CATL), to develop new battery systems. As part of the deal, CATL will open the world’s largest battery production plant, with plans to reach 36,000 GWh of capacity by 2020.
The existing V80 will continue in production for another year or so before its replacement comes on stream at the end of 2019. The next-generation model, code-named SV63, will offer a larger payload and lower ground clearance. It is being developed from the start to be powered by either conventional diesel or electric means.
The range will grow further with another dedicated electric vehicle, the smaller EV31. Harris Group general manager Mark Barrett declared that this will be the first purpose-built EV panel van to be offered in the UK, rather than an electric vehicle converted from an internal combustion model.
The EV31 will be offered in two wheelbases, with a minimum cargo capacity of 4.8m3. It will feature both DC and AC charging to support clients who may not have access to rapid chargers, and will boast a range of up to 200 miles.
Joining the pick-up crowd?
Although it wasn’t on the stand at CV Show 2018, LDV is also weighing up whether to import the T60 pick-up truck model to the UK after a successful launch in Asia and Australia.
The T60 was the first Chinese-built pick-up to be awarded five stars by ANCAP (the Australian equivalent of Euro NCAP), and would compete with the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux et al if it makes it to these shores.
Harris broadens its horizons
Barrett also announced that the Harris Group has now secured rights for all right-hand drive markets in Europe for the LDV brand, with Malta and Cyprus now added to the operation.
“Having re-established the LDV brand and laid the foundations for future growth with a fantastic dealer network, finance offers, warranty and aftersales service, we are now in a great position to announce some really exciting developments for LDV over the next two years,” said Barrett.
“Expanding into new markets such as Malta and Cyprus is a fantastic opportunity to grow LDV’s dealer network outside of mainland Europe, and the response to the range has been very positive. This is testament not only to the fantastic value that the LDV offers both individual and fleet buyers, but also to the all-round quality and spec of the vehicles.
The expanding range of products will offer great additions to our fleet and support dealers with a full range line-up, whilst allowing us to continue to deliver high-spec vehicles at an affordable price.”