LDV’s eT60 electric ute might grab headlines, but don’t expect it to do what the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux can – CarsGuide

LDV has made headlines by being the first manufacturer in Australia to offer a factory-backed fully electric ute, but is also acutely aware its tailpipe emissions-free Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux rival will not be for everyone.

The eT60 arrives wearing a price-tag of $92,990 before on-road costs, with LDV clearly targeting commercial buyers with zero- or low-emissions fleet targets.

Speaking to CarsGuide At the launch of the eT60, LDV’s Australian general manager, Dinesh Chinnappa, explained that over 600 of its current online enquiries were still from private buyers.

Read more about the LDV T60

“The people interested are enthusiasts, early adopters, but we’re also getting substantial interest from corporate. The list of companies interested in larger orders is really significant,” he said.

But is the 330km range enough? Mr Chinnappa said it will be for corporate clients for whom the range would be “more than adequate for their needs”, but didn’t mince words when it came to private buyers.

“Put simply, if you want to tow a boat or a horse trailer, don’t buy it. We’ve got the combustion ute, if you want to drive to Darwin or Perth from Sydney, we’ve got the T60 Max, if you want to throw some stuff in the back and drive around town – the eT60 will work for you, he said.

The eT60 is capable of towing 1000kg braked (down from 3000kg in the combustion version) and can carry a 1000kg payload. It has a GVM of 3300kg.

Pricewise, the eT60 is a far cry from the budget offerings which the brand has used to make a name for itself in the market so far, when asked about whether the brand has scope to bring the cost down for its electric offerings, Mr Chinnappa said the future looks bright for more affordable electric commercial vehicles.

“I believe the natural order of life is that battery technology will advance – as it has for most other tech goods, the price goes down. Will we achieve price parity? Who knows but we’re just at the beginning of the process,” he said.

“These EVs won’t be sold at the traditional LDV price point, and sales volume will be lower. We remain realistic when forecasting sales volumes.”

The eT60 has a range of 330 km. The eT60 has a range of 330 km.

So, does the arrival of the eT60 – part of a larger EV push which includes the Mifa 9 electric people mover and Deliver 9 electric van – signal the first step in a move away from LDV’s combustion business? Mr Chinnappa said not for a long time, and that the brand was realistic about the needs of Australian customers.

“Because of the size of this country, and the clusters of people along the eastern seaboard, we need combustion engines for the foreseeable future – our next-generation pickup will still be offered with combustion engines,” he said.

“We’re still some time away from Australia going 100 per cent electric because of our unique geographical challenges. So yes, the next generation which we’re working on now will be ICE and EV. Will we have enough charging stations in Australia to go fully electric within a two- or three-year window? The answer is no.”

With all this talk of the next-generation ute though, will LDV’s next T60 (or whatever replaces it) offer a 4×4 electric version?

Of course [parent-company SAIC Maxus] are working on four-wheel drive electrified utes,” Mr Chinappa said.

On the next-gen ute, they came to us a year and a half ago asking us what we wanted to have. [Australia] is important to them, they listen to us.”

Mr Chinappa wouldn’t be drawn on exactly when the next-generation T60 would arrive, but that he expects the current eT60 to form the backbone of the brand’s electrified sales, particularly in an environment increasingly favorable to electrified commercial vehicles.

“If the new government takes away fringe benefit tax for vehicles like this – that’s up to a $20k advantage for an EV over combustion rivals,” he said.