JAC electric and diesel utes from China coming to Australia

Little-known Chinese commercial vehicle specialist JAC Motors is planning to return to the Australian car market with a range of diesel and electric utes after a stalled start here in 2009.

JAC electric and diesel utes from China coming to Australia

The arrival of a range of JAC Motors utes – due in 2023 with diesel power and in 2024 with electric models – will add price pressure to the affordable end of the ute market currently dominated by fellow Chinese brands Great Wall Motors (GWM) and LDV.

Local representatives for JAC Motors say the company will initially introduce a diesel double-cab ute some time in 2023 from about $40,000 before adding an electric model to the portfolio in 2024.

For now, JAC’s Australian importer, BLK Auto, says it has no detailed pricing or technical information.

Announcing the plan, the managing director of BLK Auto – Jason Pecotic – told Drive JAC has learned from its previous unsuccessful attempt to launch in Australia.

JAC electric and diesel utes from China coming to Australia “JAC launched here in 2009 with trucks, not utes. We withdrew from the market. The trucks weren’t built for our conditions,” Mr Pecotic told Drive.

“There were challenges. We need to make sure we come to market with a durable, quality product.”

Mr Pecotic said the 2023 launch plan with the second-generation Hunter ute was backed by extensive testing and development work in China and Australia, as well as the Volkswagen Group’s investment in JAC.

“They are building it (Hunter) for mature markets. JAC opened a test and evaluation centre (in China) specifically to supply cars for our conditions.

“We have had JAC people here for two months, studying the market. Australia is the first (international) market they will be going to with the new vehicle.”

JAC electric and diesel utes from China coming to Australia Mr Pecotic said a five-star ANCAP safety rating was one of the high priorities for JAC.

“We are working with ANCAP. The intention of JAC is to bring the vehicle to market with a five-star ANCAP rating,” he said.

BLK Auto is currently operating as an importer for light trucks and buses from China, both electric and hydrogen fuelled, and will move from the Gold Coast to establish a new headquarters in Sydney early next year.

Detailing the roll-out for JAC, Mr Pecotic said the diesel-engined utes – with outputs of 125kW and 410Nm, and a ZF automatic gearbox – should be in Australian dealerships by the middle of next year.

JAC electric and diesel utes from China coming to Australia “The start of production is June (2023), so we should have vehicles then. We will have two versions, the base model and the top-of-the-line model,” he said.

“The utes will be very highly specified with the … performance and price to make them competitive against utes including the LDV T60 and GWM Ute. It will come with features including a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, eight-speed ZF automatic, part-time four-wheel drive and four-wheel disc brakes.”

Pricing, he said without going into detail, would be comparable to the similar vehicles from LDV and GWM.

JAC electric and diesel utes from China coming to Australia Looking ahead to the electric JAC Hunter, Mr Pecotic said the picture was still not clear despite JAC’s commitment to bring it to Australia.

“It’s a blank page. You have to have one, because everyone is going electric,” he said.

“What’s the future of electric pick-ups? I don’t know. (But) Volkswagen has primarily invested in JAC for electric markets, going forward. It’s coming in the first quarter (January-March) of 2024.”

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