Yesterday (Wednesday ) in Dublin saw the Chinese join forces with the Irish for the relaunch of the LDV (Leyland DAF ) vans with the new V80 range.
Originally founded in 1993, Irish buyers might recall that LDV vans were produced in Birmingham until 2008, when the recession halted production and closed the plant. The last registrations in Ireland were in 2009. LDV is now owned and manufactured by SAIC, a Fortune 500 company that builds in excess of six million vehicles each year in China. SAIC also own MG, and builds cars in conjunction with Volkswagen and General Motors in China for the Chinese market.
SAIC has just awarded the distribution rights for the UK and Ireland to the Harris Group, one of Ireland’s oldest, family-owned automotive distributors located on the Naas Road in Dublin. Harris is the company that first introduced the Hino truck from Japan to Ireland back in the 1960s. The company has beaten off stiff competition from all over the UK and Ireland to win the LDV contract from SAIC, which it says will have invested $2.2bn by 2020 in growing and developing the LDV brand globally.
SAIC’s commitment to developing the brand in Ireland and the UK was evidenced by its chairman and deputy general flying in from China for the launch event yesterday. The timing for the Harris Group could not be better with massive growth in the Irish light commercial vehicle (LCV ) market, with sales up more than 40 per cent in 2015.
The LDV V80 was engineered in the UK. It will be offered in three panel van sizes: a low-roof version with short wheel base (6.9 cubic metres capacity ); a medium roof version with a long wheel base (10.2 cubic metres capacity ); and a high-roof version with a long wheel base (11.4 metres capacity ). A chassis cab version will also be available, as will a crew cab and minibus version.
Power for the V80 range comes from the established Italian-built VM Eco-D 2.5 16V turbo-diesel (136PS ) engine with intercooler. It features a Bosch electronically controlled common rail direct fuel injection system. It comes with a six-speed transmission. Also coming down the tracks for the brand is a new G10 MPV, which is expected to be launched in 2017, and it should additionally be available in a van version.