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Another cheap Chinese ute on the way (copyright image)

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22nd June, 2011

Poor safety standards of Chinese manufactured vehicles isn't slowing the rush of more cheapies coming to Australia from the emerging automotive giant, China. Sydney based WMC Group is planning the local distribution of the Foton range of 4x2 and 4x4 utilities. The first vehicles are scheduled to go on sale in Australia early in 2012.

The agreement between WMC and Foton has been signed and secured while Australian Design Rule compliance and testing is currently underway and is hoped to be finalised during Q3.

The Foton utes will be powered by a Cummins ISF 2.8 litre Euro 5 common rail turbo diesel or a Foton manufactured 2.4-litre petrol engine coupled to a Getrag five-speed manual or ZF six speed automatic.

"We are very pleased to have secured the distribution rights for Foton ute and we are confident that it will compliment our other automotive products including Higer buses and JAC trucks," said Mr. Pecotic, managing director of WMC.

Mr. Pecotic suggests the price of Foton will only be 15 to 20 per cent lower than established quality products from Japanese brands. This suggests to the Next Car team that Foton will be overpriced just like Great Wall utes.

The model name to be used for the new Foton ute is yet to be determined and is currently under discussion.

Foton will manufacture the ute in a plant near Beijing.

The new Foton ute will only have dual front airbags as standard, rather than a combination of front and side airbags. ESP will not be available.

The latest Euro 5 spec ISF 2.8litre common rail turbo diesel engine is the newest engine in the Cummins range and delivers up to 120 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque.

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Along with the Getrag manual transmission, which will be available at the time of the Australian launch, the Foton will also be available with a ZF automatic to be introduced soon after. The transmission features an electronic transfer case for selection of four wheel drive on the move, while it also boasts the latest design heavy duty Dana axles with Limited Slip Differential.

WMC is planning a range of six model variants when it launches the Foton utes including a 4x4 dual cab diesel, a 4x2 dual cab diesel, and a 4x2 dual cab petrol as well as a 4x2 extra cab diesel and 4x2 single cab models with either diesel or petrol power.

Exterior dimensions position the Foton ute dual cab competitively against the opposition with an overall length of 5,310 mm, width of 1,880 mm and height of 1,810 mm with ground clearance of 220 mm. This is 180 mm longer, 120 mm wider and the same height as the best selling similar spec Japanese ute while the Foton also boasts 10 mm more ground clearance.

A dealer network is being assembled to handle sales of the Foton ute range with representation planned across the country in major rural and regional centres as well as metro markets.

WMC is based in Sydney and has been the Australian distributor for Higer buses and coaches since 2006 and the Australian distributor of JAC trucks from China.

WMC's head office and distribution centre is based at Milperra in Sydney's South West to serve its Foton, JAC and Higer operations.


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