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Foton Tunland utes hit Australia

Foton is another Chinese brand with big dreams, but this time with a price to match.

Just launching in Australia, Foton is swerving away from the cheap-and-cheerful approach taken by Chery and Great Wall as it pitches its Tunland dual-cab ute into action with a $28,000 starting sticker.

Tunland says the Toyota HiLux is its target in Australia and touts a mechanical package that is built around a Cummins 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, a Getrag gearbox and Bosch electronics. "I want to get one thing straight. They are Chinese assembled, but the componentry is all European or American. That's a huge difference," the sales and marketing chief of Foton Australia, Rod James, tells Carsguide.

"This is a ute that Foton designed especially for first-world markets. We're the first to get it, with South Africa. We believe in the vehicle." Foton is being imported by a start-up company that was established to handle the local agency, although it has some experienced staff from other brands.

It is aiming to sell 1700-2000 vehicles in 2013 and intends to expand its range with a single-cab ute and as 12-seater van called the View. James admits there are some shortcomings in the Tunland, which only has two airbags and no ESP, but is keen to talk about the mechanical components that - he says - justify the meaty starting price.

"The things I see as huge plusses are the Cummins motor, which is $11,000 before fitting. The gearbox is $3500 as well. You start adding it up," he says. "On the critical side, there are cosmetic issues that they are working hard on. There is stuff they could have put in standard that they don't have as yet. "In 12 months it will be a different vehicle altogether. It's very satisfactory at this point, and good value, and it will get better."

Foton is based at Yatala in Queensland and has 12 dealers, as well as a three-year/100,000 kilometre warranty. The 4x2 Tunland starts at $28,000 and the 4x4 model from $34,500, which James says is a "sweet spot" between brand-name Japanese utes and Great Wall from China. But Great Wall utes still start from $17,990 on the road in Australia and the most direct competitor for the Tunland, a dual-cab diesel from Great Wall, is still only $24,990 driveaway.


Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 7 comments

  • Yes I too am impressed with the vehicle having test driven one today, the most impressive thing is the power these things have some serious grunt and I think they would give any other 4 cylinder turbo diesel ute a flogging no worries at all.

    James Fenton of Perth WA Posted on 04 October 2013 12:35am
  • Passenger vehicles in Australia MUST have ESP. How can they get away without it on a Ute or 4WD? It should be manditory on ALL vehicles...

    Rexy of rAdelaide Posted on 06 March 2013 12:09pm
  • Please check the ANCAP safety Rating on these before considering with only 2 airbags and no ESP it seems to be heading for a very low safety rating.

    Laurie Rayment of Gladstone Park, Victoria Posted on 01 March 2013 10:17am
  • WOW. After hearing so much about these vehicles, I test drove one of these yesterday. I totally didn't expect it to be as good as it was, on the internet people are either totally for it or totally against. I'd definitely go out on a limb and say that those who are against haven't actually even SEEN the car in the 'flesh'. Obviously everyone goes for the Cummins engine. But the car itself actually LOOKS and FEELS great. The pictures do it no justice. I would strongly recommend test driving these beasts before judging.

    Not Sitting On The Fence Any More of Perth Posted on 18 December 2012 12:21pm
  • A little bit of creative licence from Rod James saying the motor alone is worth $11,000.00. Go to Alibaba dot com and you will see theses Cummins engines for sale brand new for 5k (US dollars), and that’s just for 1 unit.

    Keep It Real of QLD Posted on 15 December 2012 10:50pm
  • Looks Chinese, too much cheap chromed plastic. I have driven a Great Wall dual cab and I think I was dragged of the lights by a Morris 850, looking forward to driving this.

    Jason of Angle Vale Posted on 15 December 2012 7:56am
  • Stock just arrived at Pacific Foton - looks nice. Can't wait to test drive.

    MickMcN13 of Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast Posted on 02 December 2012 3:08pm
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