After a long period of anticipation, the ITTES was the venue for the unveiling of the new range of light duty trucks from JAC for the first time on Australian soil.
This was the first opportunity for many to see the new range from China, after a number of sightings in the transport industry trade press. The new trucks provoked a high level of interest as the industry could touch and feel the models for the first time.
This marks a major milestone in the ongoing story of the importing of Chinese trucks into Australia. The previous ITTES had seen the low key preview of the Foton brand but this was a much more upbeat affair with three introduction models on show at the JAC stand.
The new models on offer have GVMs of 4.5 tonne, 6.5 tonne and 7.5 tonne. These will be known as the J45, J65 and J75, matching three of the top selling specification slots in the Australian light duty truck market. All are currently available only as a wide cab option but we can expect some narrow cab variants to arrive, especially in the 4.5 tonne GVM model.
To look at, the trucks are very reminiscent of the Japanese Isuzu range available before 2007, but apart from the cab shell and basic chassis they have very little in common with their Japanese counterparts. The driveline specification is one of the main items that differentiates these new trucks from those we have traditionally bought from Japan. By including a Cummins engine and, in some cases, a ZF gearbox, JAC is selling a driveline that is familiar to Australian truck buyers.
The two engines being used by JAC are the Cummins ISFe5, available in both 2.8 and 3.8L variants. These engines come from the long association Cummins has had with Chinese manufacturers in joint ventures making engines in China. The 2.8L variant is fitted in the J45 and produces 148hp (110kW) of power and 360Nm (266 ft lb) of torque between 1000rpm and 2200rpm. Meanwhile the larger 3.8L variant which is used in the J65 and J75 puts out only 141hp (105kW), but this is coupled with much more torque at 450Nm (332 ft lb).
The engines are ADR 80/03 compliant, using a common rail fuel injection system and SCR after treatment to meet exhaust gas rules. These engines drive through a five-speed ZF Ecolite 5S400 transmission, in the case of the J45, and a six speed JAC manual gearbox, in the J65 and J75.
These three trucks were not the only new models from JAC on its stand at the ITTES. The first example of the van range JAC intends to bring into Australia was also on the stand. The two models, the JAC Sunray and the Refine, are expected to start coming into the country next year.
The heavier Sunray will be powered by the same Cummins 2.8L engine used in the JAC J45, while the smaller Refine will use a 1.9L JAC engine. With a GVM of 4995kg, the Sunray is both reminiscent of, and designed to compete directly with, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Refine’s 3550kg GVM will see it competing with a number of European vans including the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Vito.
These trucks and vans are being imported into Australia by Sydney-based company WMC who has been responsible for introducing the Higer bus range into Australia in the last five years. The company took the opportunity to introduce another brand onto the Australian market, Maxus, during the ITTES.
Where most brands imported from China are considered to be low cost alternatives to the current brands imported from elsewhere, Maxus looks like a brand capable of competing directly with the premium brands already operating here. These new generation Maxus V80 models are based on the front wheel drive van platform developed by LDV, a company that grew out of the ashes of the former Leyland van manufacturing operation in the UK.
The Maxus operation was taken over by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Company (SAIC) and the vehicles are now manufactured in China for export to Europe, and soon for export to Australia. SAIC also owns the MG and Rover brands as well as being involved in joint ventures with both General Motors and Volkswagen in China.
There will be seven models in the new Maxus range including three cargo vehicles and four passenger models. The vans are powered with VM Motori 2.5L diesel engines using common rail fuel injection rated at 134hp (100kW) with a five-speed manual gearbox and there is an optional Allison auto in the pipeline.
At the ITTES, the joint JAC/Maxus stand attracted a lot of attention with many people in the transport industry getting their first opportunity to have a look at the first comprehensive range of commercial vehicles being imported from China.