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Attention Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol buyers: The latest on the missing GWM Tank 500 diesel, PHEV plug-in hybrid and twin-turbo V6 for Australia and NZ

The GWM Tank 500 HEV is the first seven-seater hybrid 4x4 in Australia, and is set to lure Toyota Prado and LandCruiser buyers.

Where is the Tank 500 diesel and why has GWM launched only with a hybrid for now?

Right now, only the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is offered in Australia from a headline-making $66,490-driveaway, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and electric motor combination delivering 255kW of power and 648Nm of torque.

According to GWM Australia Head of Marketing and Communications, Steve Maciver, there are sound reasons why the fledgling large body-on-frame three-row rival to the Toyota Prado, Nissan Patrol and Land Rover Defender is limiting its powertrain choices for local consumers at this time.

“At this stage, no (diesel),” he told the media at the recent launch of the Tank 500 Hybrid in Melbourne. “We’ve got to look very carefully at our powertrain selection in the coming years, with the obvious reason we’ve got new vehicle emissions standards coming.

“We have, as a company, made a very, very strong play in introducing hybrids and EVs in this market, and that will continue regardless of new-vehicle emissions standards.

“We believe that with the hybrid powertrain that we’ve got, that gives us a really strong combination of driving performance and fuel efficiency.”

The GWM Tank 500 HEV looks like it costs over 0K but starts from just ,490-driveaway.

With a raft of all-new entrants into the Australian market in the pipeline, GWM is wary of not creating too much of a rod for its corporate back.

“If we were to bring a diesel, that adds a whole level of complexity for that,” Maciver admitted. “And we’re not sure the diesel – if it were made available to us – would offer more in terms of driveability or capability for consumers.

“At the moment, it’s not something we’re considering, but certainly Tank 500 Hybrid is the nameplate.”

With a body-on-frame construction and live axles, the Tank 500 has real 4x4 off-road ability.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the powertrain spectrum, what’s the latest on the flagship plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the Tank 500?

“There is a Tank 500 plug-in hybrid available in other markets,” Maciver said. “Again, it’s something we can look at. It’s not necessarily available for us to take right here today if we want. But it is under consideration longer term.

“What I would say more generally about that is that we have got a number of vehicles that are available in overseas markets that may become available for the Australia and New Zealand region moving forward.

The Tank 500 HEV is the only large 4x4 hybrid with three rows of seating.

“Those cars are, for example, (Haval) H6 GT plug-in hybrid, Tank 500 plug-in hybrid. They may not be right for our market and our customers today. We do know that the uptake of plug-in hybrid has been slow in this market for a number of different reasons.

“More widely, with the new vehicle emissions standards, we also have to sit down as a company. We have to work out the implications of that and what that means. And that’s work that we’re doing right now. We welcome any standards which allow more fuel-efficient choices to be available to Australian customers.

“That’s the bottom line… (and) we do believe that GWM is well placed with the range of vehicles we’ve got today.

GWM says the Tank 500 will be hybrid only for Australia, so no diesel, PHEV or V6 twin-turbo for now.

“The level of investment (in China) into powertrain, into technology, is impressive. And that gives us the confidence to stand here today and say we will be relatively well-equipped to offer the right powertrain choices.”

Finally – and great news for Nissan’s big V6-powered Patrol but bad news for consumers seeking a powerful six-cylinder petrol-powered alternative – the Tank 500 with a 265kW/500Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol is also currently barred from entering Australia.

“Again, it’s a powertrain we could have available potentially, but (from an emissions perspective) we have to consider it very carefully,” Maciver revealed.

A very luxury-car-like dash and ambience is another selling point for the Tank 500 HEV Ultra.

“We think is not the right choice for us at this stage… (so) at this stage it’s not on the radar.”

Is GWM making the right choice bringing in the Tank 500 as a hybrid-only proposition? Let us know in the comments below.

Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC Youth radio Triple J's "all things automotive" correspondent from 2001 to 2003. He rejoined John Mellor in early 2003 and has been with GoAutoMedia as a senior product and industry journalist ever since. With an eye for detail and a vast knowledge base of both new and used cars Byron lives and breathes motoring. His encyclopedic knowledge of cars was acquired from childhood by reading just about every issue of every car magazine ever to hit a newsstand in Australia. The child Byron was the consummate car spotter, devoured and collected anything written about cars that he could lay his hands on and by nine had driven more imaginary miles at the wheel of the family Ford Falcon in the driveway at home than many people drive in a lifetime. The teenage Byron filled in the agonising years leading up to getting his driver's license by reading the words of the leading motoring editors of the country and learning what they look for in a car and how to write it. In short, Byron loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about every vehicle released during his lifetime as well as most of the ones that were around before then.
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