China’s LDV has carved out a presence in this segment with its diesel-powered T60, offering a rough-but-ready alternative to a used ‘name-brand’ model backed by a new-car warranty.
Now though, LDV wants to go from follower to leader, having beaten all its competitors to the punch when it comes to going pure-electric.
The dual-cab ute market won’t shift away from diesel overnight of course. But there are fleet operators in particular keen on starting to get their heads around battery-powered workhorses, and all the changes they’ll need to make to get the best from them.
Accordingly, LDV says its targets are government and business fleets committed to internal emissions reduction targets. Plus a tiny crowd of private early adopters.
Right now the options are to either go to a third party, or buy the LDV – something pointed out by general manager, Dinesh Chinnappa.
“We’re an OEM offering Australia’s first electric ute and everything that comes with that fact: a nationwide dealer network, factory-backed servicing and warranty, and a significant spare parts operation to manage our fast-growing carpark.
“There is an undoubted appetite for commercial application EVs… These Australian businesses know the eT60 isn’t going to cross the Nullarbor – but that its 330km range is more than adequate for their everyday requirements.
“But they also know government EV policy and EV infrastructure is on the move and they want to be ahead of the transition. And the LDV eT60, Australia’s first electric ute, is here to help.”
We had a very brief introduction to the LDV eT60 at a large-scale media event last week, and frankly didn’t have nearly enough time to familiarise ourselves sufficiently for a full review.
A longer test will come soon, for now this is a quick drive with all the specs thrown in.
It’s $92,990 before on-road costs, or more than the double the price of the T60 Max which comes with 4×4. That cost gap buys a lot of diesel…
That means its price would not meet conditions for the Albanese government’s proposed fringe-benefits tax exemption for EVs as it stands, and its price is also above the threshold for various State-based rebates available already.
Moreover, over the ditch in New Zealand, the LDV eT60 costs $79,990 drive-away, which is about $74,000 AUD, and is further eligible for a $8625 government rebate. What gives?
The cabin looks and feels much the same as the T60 Max diesel’s, aside from the circular dial gear shifter with N, R and D labels.
The red-stitched synthetic leather seats are a little flat but comfy enough based on a short stint at the wheel, and both driver and front passenger seats are electrically powered.
One gripe is the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel, which has audio controls on the right spoke but a blank on the left – where the diesel’s cruise control switches live.
Behind the wheel sits a slightly different instrument cluster with an analogue power-delivery meter on the left and speedo on the right, plus a small trip computer in the middle.
The general mixture of materials and trims, and the fit-and-finish, feel fine for a $40,000 diesel ute, but it certainly doesn’t feel like the cabin of a vehicle nudging six figures in here.
The touchscreen doesn’t offer navigation unless you have an iPhone and can pair up Apple CarPlay, but it does offer decent graphics, Bluetooth/USB connections, and a reversing camera.
It’s quite a basic system, but at 10.25-inches offers plenty of real estate. Again though, you’re reminded of the eT60’s price point.
The climate control is adjusted via the touch-sensitive black backlit panel below the screen which would be fiddlier to do in work gloves than regular buttons and dials.
Further down live two USB-A ports and a 12V socket, plus a phone stowage section.
The back seats are capacious enough for two average adults and rear occupants have 12V and 220V sockets.
The eT60 measures 5365mm long, 1809mm tall, 1900mm wide with the mirrors folded, and sits on a 3155mm wheelbase.
The tub measures 1129mm wide between the arches, 520mm deep, and 1485mm long. Its widest point is 1510mm.
There’s a drive motor under the bonnet, and while there is plenty of space, there’s no front storage tub.
The eT60 is powered by a 130kW and 310Nm permanent magnet synchronous motor driving the rear wheels (rear-wheel drive is standard), linked to Power, Normal and Eco drive settings.
It’s powered by the electricity stored in a 88.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack, offering a claimed maximum WLTP-rated driving range of 330km. The 330km range is based on claimed electricity consumption of just under 27kWh per 100km, which is very high but also unsurprising given utes are not particularly aerodynamic.
According to LDV an 11kW charge at an AC wallbox with Type 2 port will fill the battery in about 13 hours on a single-phase setup, or 9 hours on a three-phase – so, overnight between shifts. An 80kW current on a DC charger is claimed to take the eT60 from 20 per cent charged to 80 per cent in about 45 minutes, for on-the-go top-ups.
It has a rated towing capacity of just 1000kg, and the top speed is listed as 120km/h.
- Power: 130kW
- Torque: 310Nm
- Top speed: 120km/h
- Range claim: 330km
- Battery: 88.5kWh
- Towing: 1000kg
Progress is more stately than chest-thumping regardless of whether you’re in Eco or Sport modes, and its rear-wheel drive layout means there’s no tyre chirp.
Unlike the laggy diesel, its power delivery is also immediate and stays linear for a good stint until tapering away near top speed.
The biggest upside is refinement. The T60 Max diesel is a coarse and rattly ute by contrast, with the eT60 obviously silent (except for a low-speed hum) and vibration-free.
The battery weight seems to settle the eT60’s suspension down over patchy B-roads, although it still feels a little unsettled on regional motorways.
Around town it’s better-suited, with a silent ‘idle’ and single-setting regenerative braking, which is quite weak in feel but still harvests a small amount of waste energy.
The steering feels fairly light and the tuning circle is 12.6m.
The suspension layout comprises double-wishbones at the front and leaf springs at the rear. It has disc brakes all round (plus regenerative braking) and an electric power steering system unlike the diesel’s hydraulic.
The spec sheet lists kerb weight as 2300kg, which is between 150kg and 185kg heavier than the T60 diesel range, which also comes with 4×4.
LDV claims a decent payload of 1000kg, based on a 3300kg GVM, although carrying this would decimate the range, we suspect.
I can’t make much comment on that 330km range because as flagged, this introductory experience was so brief, but so long as you cover less than 300km a day and have a work or home wallbox for overnight charging it should perform its duties.
There’s just the one basic spec level available, with the following:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Tyre repair kit
- Halogen headlights
- Dusk sensors
- LED daytime running lights
- LED tail lights
- Spray-in tub liner
- Side steps
- Stainless steel sports bar
- Gas strut for bonnet
- Rear parking sensors
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Height-adjustable steering column
- 220V outlet
- Air conditioning
- Leatherette seats
- Powered front seats
- Reversing camera
- 10.25-inch touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay (wired)
- USB ports x 2
The diesel T60 has a five-star ANCAP rating based on easier 2017 tests, but the eT60 EV is explicitly unrated.
There are no active driver-assists such as AEB or blind-spot monitoring available.
Safety equipment includes:
- Driver and passenger front airbags
- Driver and passenger side airbags
- Curtain airbags
- Rear ISOFIX and top-tether points
- Rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
While the T60 Max diesel now has a seven-year warranty, for some reason the eT60’s warranty is five years or 160,000km (whichever comes first), with roadside assist.
However the battery gets an eight-year/160,000km battery warranty.
Servicing intervals are long, every two years or 30,000km, which is another great upside for fleet operators.
Australia’s first factory-original EV ute is too expensive and too limited in its abilities to become much more than a pilot vehicle for fleets keen on greening up.
That said, its silent operation and promise of vastly cheaper running costs – imagine fleets no longer needing fuel cards – do hint at what electric utes will offer the tradies of tomorrow.
Credit goes to LDV for going from follower to leader (by default), but for now I suspect the eT60 is a branding exercise more than it is a hugely compelling alternative.
We’re looking forward to borrowing one for a longer loan to really test its credentials.
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MORE: Everything LDV T60