LDV set to be revitalised in 2020

  • All-new large van plus small electric van coming for LDV
  • Both set to go on sale in 2020, with pickup to follow in 2021
  • We visit Chinese factories to find out how quality compares

Longstanding British van brand LDV is set to be revitalised in 2020, when it will introduce two new models into the UK market and be rebranded Maxus. The two new vans, named the Maxus Deliver 9 and Maxus eDeliver 3, will be joined in 2021 by a double cab pickup called the Maxus T70.

Since coming under the ownership of Chinese car giant Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) in 2010, which resulted in it being reintroduced into the UK market in 2015, LDV has been soldiering on with the V80 large van, which has its origins in a model that dates back to 2004.

Unsurprisingly, the V80 is really feeling its age. These two new vans, however, represent a real step towards modernity, and if the pricing ends up being right, really could become a credible alternative to more mainstream rivals.

What is the LDV/Maxus eDeliver 3?

You can read full details of this new model in our separate story, but the eDeliver 3 is a compact van that comes in short-wheelbase (SWB) and long-wheelbase (LWB) sizes, bridging the traditional small and medium van segments. The kicker is that it’s a pure electric van, and has been designed that way from the ground up in an effort to avoid the compromises that often come when diesel vans are converted to electric.

LDV e Deliver 3 electric van

As such it has a number of rather exotic-sounding weight-saving measures, including extensive use of aluminium, high-strength steel and even some composite plastic materials for some body panels.

The van was actually unveiled at the CV Show in 2019, where it was called the EV30. As far as we can make out, it’s continuing with this name in SAIC’s home market in China, but European models, including those sold in the UK, will be badged eDeliver 3 instead.

Regardless, this is a smart looking, no-nonsense electric van, with claims of high payload of up to 1,000kg and an impressive driving range of up to 174 miles (albeit with the larger battery option and tested to the older, less stringent NEDC standard).

What is the LDV/Maxus Deliver 9?

The Deliver 9 is LDV’s replacement for the aging V80. Built on an all-new platform and powered by a brand new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, we were originally expecting this van to be called the V90, but again this has been changed for the European market (at least in part because V90 is already a model name already used by Volvo cars).

LDV Deliver 9 large van

To look at, the Deliver 9 clearly takes a great deal of inspiration from the Ford Transit, with elements of the Iveco Daily – most notably the wheelarches – blended into the mix. The cab interior is also similar to the latest Transit facelift, though the full width ventilation grilles seem to touch on recent Audi and Volkswagen interior design, too.

Whatever you think of this visual approach, it clearly sets up the Deliver 9 as a much more sophisticated van than the V80 – something the promise of standard-fit active safety technology (including autonomous emergency braking) and the use of electric power assisted steering does its best to fulfil.

You can read more details in our separate story, but this certainly seems to be a big step forward for the LDV brand in a highly competitive segment of the van market. If the pricing is right and extras such as the V80’s five-year warranty are carried over into the new model, we can see the Deliver 9 turning more than a few heads when it launches into the UK in the second part of 2020.

But can LDV really compete toe-to-toe with European van makers?

As well as (very) briefly sampling both vans at SAIC’s HQ in China, we’ve also toured two of the firm’s factories. The one in Wuxi houses the current V80 line and is also where the T60 and T70 pickups are produced alongside a Maxus-branded MPV; the other is a car manufacturing facility in Nanjing that only opened in 2018 – making it one of the newest car factories in the world.

LDV pickup being assembled in factory

The V80 may be an old design, but SAIC builds it using a combination of manual and automated production processes just like any other mainstream vehicle, and there was little to obviously separate this factory from others we’ve visited – with the exception of the sophistication of some of the tools.

The areas of this factory building the pickups and people carriers, however, are up to date enough to that these two – very different – models come down the same assembly line.

Meanwhile, the plant in Nanjing not only has all the computer controlled and monitored torque-wrenches we’d expect to see in a modern European car factory, it also allows such a degree of customisation to the D60 SUV that’s built there that SAIC Maxus has won an award from the World Economic Forum.

LDV factory - robots

This process uses an interactive website – or smartphone app – called the Smart Spider, on which customers can not only choose between hundreds of options combinations but go all the way through to placing an order and paying for the car.

A combination of autonomous delivery carts, a pick-by-light parts area and exact vehicle build-tracking throughout the assembly process not only ensures the correct custom parts are fitted to the correct order, but also sends the buyer updates on their car from the moment the build begins to arrival at the dealership for collection. From order to delivery takes 28 days or less.

LDV factory - pick-by-light system for Smart Spider

So while the vans won’t be available in the UK with quite that level of personalisation, there seems little reason to suggest that LDV won’t be able to provide a genuinely high-quality product – though the proof will most certainly be in the driving and living with it.

For prospective van buyers there is also a small issue of the available service provision in the UK, which is currently limited to around 30 dealers. Most of these are dedicated commercial vehicle centres, but LDV customers won’t be able to expect after-sales care on the scale that big brands such as Ford and Vauxhall are able to offer.

Anything else on the horizon for LDV/Maxus worth mentioning?

Alongside the pickup, which has been promised for a couple of years now but should hopefully make an appearance in 2021, LDV also has a planned electric version of the Deliver 9 in the works.

The eDeliver 9 would replace the EV80, which has proved a quiet success story in the somewhat limited large electric van market – not least because LDV is able to provide the EV80 in a variety of body styles, which some other, more mainstream large electric van makers are unable to commit to (we’re looking at you Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen).

LDV T70 pickup - Maxus-badged version sold in China

Perhaps more intriguing is the possibility that the LDV name itself may be phased-out over time.

SAIC has been using Maxus for the brand name in China since the beginning, and will use Maxus in European markets when the new vans go on sale there; insiders suggest it would like to use Maxus globally as well – just for the sake of consistency.

However, SAIC is well aware that LDV still has some brand recognition in places such as the UK and Australia (where the T60 pickup that the T70 is based on became the first Chinese pickup to ever receive a five-star crash safety rating in 2017), so is treading very carefully here.

When will we get to see the new models?

The 2020 CV Show in Birmingham was due to host the UK reveal of the Deliver 9 and eDeliver 3, but this has been cancelled. So now Maxus is planning an online launch event instead, scheduled for late May or early June.

It’s looking like a big year for LDV/Maxus – here’s hoping it manages to deliver on all this potential.

Also read:

>> Maxus eDeliver 3 electric van full details

>> Maxus Deliver 9 large van revealed at last

>> Read an LDV review on Parkers Vans and Pickups