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Chinese auto giant SAIC has officially confirmed that it will bring its Maxus MIFA 9 all-electric people mover to the United Kingdom – and it’s a model that the company’s local office has a keen eye on.
The MIFA 9 was launched into the Chinese market in late 2021, however the announcement of exports of the battery-powered van to the UK in right-hand-drive configuration opens the door to other RHD markets like Australia.
And it’s something Australians may have an appetite for. The MIFA 9 is built on an EV-specific platform and totes a sizable 93kWh battery pack underneath. A single electric motor with a modest 180kW and 350Nm takes power to the wheels, while claimed range on a full charge is 520km on the NEDC test cycle.
With a seven-seat layout with individual captain’s chairs in the second row and a three-row bench in the back, the MIFA 9 could shape up as a respectable all-electric rival to big MPVs like the Kia Carnival and Toyota Granvia. It could also be a potential successor to the LDV G10 people mover, which recently exited the market without replacement.
“SMCV (SAIC’s commercial vehicle division) are still at the early stages of assessing the viability of the project for the AU market,” explained Dinesh Chinnappa, general manager of LDV Australia. “That decision is still some time away.”
“Our position is that we would love to take the vehicle. The G10 MPV was an important model in our line up and we think the people mover segment has a lot of potential. The MIFA looks to us like it could place Kia Carnival under some pressure given its stunning good looks and the fact that it is fully electric,” Mr Chinnappa continued.
And LDV’s local vision for the MIFA 9 isn’t restricted to carting around passengers – a cargo-lugging variant of the electric van is also somewhere on the wishlist.
“We believe that there is a lot of potential in this space. The volumes may not be huge to begin but in time we see it as inevitable that electric vans will have a role to play in the logistics infrastructure of our capital cities,” Mr Chinnappa said.
LDV isn’t the only company to have that worldview. The compact Renault Kangoo Z.E. and BYD T3 have been the only all-electric delivery vans offered in this country to date and no purely-electric people movers are currently on sale in Australia.
However, Ford will launch its all-electric E-Transit before the end of the year and Volkswagen Australia is known to be keen to add its retro-futuristic ID. Buzz and ID. Cargo to its local showrooms. Mercedes-Benz will also bring its electrified eVito and eSprinter to our shores later this year, in both cargo and passenger versions
As with the passenger car and SUV segments, the commercial vehicle and people mover segments will also steadily electrify - and with a viable product already available overseas, LDV may be in a position to be at the pointy end of that seachange.