With its new eT60, LDV becomes the first—and only—manufacturer selling a factory electric ute in Australia. Targeted at green fleets, it’s been priced accordingly
- Reasonable range claim
- Retains one-tonne payload
- Feels like a normal ute
- Smooth powertrain
- Provides an EV ute to fleets, right now
- Costs nearly $100,000
- Drives like the basic ute it is
- Can only tow a tonne
- High consumption for an EV
- No spare wheel
- Lacks AEB and cruise control
Most Australians would sensibly baulk at the idea of paying $92,990 before on-road costs for the fully-electric, Chinese-built LDV eT60 dual-cab ute. Given the same ute when powered by a turbodiesel engine costs as little as $38,990 driveaway, the electric version appears to be staggeringly expensive.
Dig into what appears to be extremely ambitious pricing, though, and it all begins to make sense. The 2023 eT60 ute isn’t aimed at you and me—individuals, sole traders, tradies or small business owners. It’s targeted squarely at what LDV calls “blue-chip” fleets: large companies that have made very public climate commitments.
The undertone from SAIC Motor brand LDV at the eT60’s Australian media preview this month was clear. A number of household-name companies in Australia have made big claims that they are serious about reducing their CO2 footprints. They’ve talked the talk—now they have to walk the walk. In other words, if they don’t buy electric utes to start replacing diesel-guzzlers, shareholders might well wonder why.
LDV deserves our praise for becoming the first manufacturer to sell a factory-built and backed all-electric ute in our market. Tesla says it will eventually sell its Cybertruck ute in Australia, and we do expect Ford to introduce a Ranger Lightning EV at some point, but LDV is here, now, with the $93K eT60.
This early electric ute won’t suit all, or even many, fleets. It is extremely limited in terms of range and towing capability.
Despite packing a relatively large 88.5kWh usable battery, LDV claims it can drive just 330 kilometres on a charge thanks to relatively high consumption of 26.8kWh/100km. While the eT60 helpfully retains the diesel ute’s 1000kg payload, towing is slashed from 3000kg in diesel form to a paltry 1000kg.
The 88.5kWh battery can be recharged from an 11kW wallbox in nine hours (say, between 10pm and 7am when power is cheap). The eT60 is capable of DC fast-charging, with an 80kW peak speed and Type 2/CC2 plug. LDV claims it can be replenished from 66km–264km range in 45 minutes.
The eT60’s charging characteristics will particularly appeal to fleet operators that have back-to-base operations, and the ability to install AC chargers for overnight replenishment.
We can imagine fleets for whom the eT60 will be more than sufficient despite the modest range. Metropolitan local councils are the first that spring to mind, with relatively short daily driven distances, little need to tow substantial weight, and the ability to charge overnight back at base.
With dual-cab pick-up trucks figuring as a very significant part of the Australian motoring landscape, driven partially by the high number of small businesses that populate our economy, it is certain that competition will arrive for the eT60 in the next few years.
LDV has a plan to address this, though. The brand’s Australian managing director Dinesh Chinnappa told Chasing Cars at the eT60 media preview that work was well-progressed on a successor ute which will again promise a choice of diesel or electric motivation—but there will not be a hybrid model to bridge the gap.
Chinnappa also suggested that the arrival of competition won’t see the $93K price of the current eT60 discounted. What happens when the cavalry arrives—be it in the form of legacy manufacturers like Ford and GM, or new starters like Tesla—remains to be seen.
Certainly, there’s fertile ground to improve upon the eT60’s dynamics. Our initial test drive was short, but it did immediately follow a drive in the lightly refreshed 2023 T60 Max diesel the electric version is based on.
The eT60 basically feels like a straight swap from diesel to electric. That’s a trait that will appeal to some: there’s little fancy footwork happening here, with the eT60 retaining its donor’s leaf-sprung rear suspension and deeply workmanlike demeanour.
Unladen, the eT60 rides firmly with an unsettled rear end. The steering is slow compared to newer utes such as Ford’s T6.2 Ranger or Nissan Navara Series 5. In other words, the eT60 is a basic ute and it drives like one—it just happens to be electric. It has chunky tyres and 17-inch wheels, so some pothole blows are rounded off well.
That said, the removal of the T60’s clattering diesel engine and torque converter automatic has radically improved the powertrain refinement. The eT60’s permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, mounted under the bonnet but powering the rear wheels, is silky smooth and quiet in operation.
No dual-motor AWD version is available and it’s likely that this option will not arrive until the eT60 is replaced by a next-generation electric ute product from LDV in two or three years’ time.
There is no transmission; torque simply flows relentlessly. Acceleration is impressively rapid, out-punching the relatively modest-looking 130kW/310Nm outputs and belying the hefty 2300kg kerb weight.
Many traditional ute buyers will be sceptical of a move to full electrification in the vehicles they know and love—but the eT60’s superb powertrain (compared to diesel engines) shows there is much to look forward to here.
The shift to EV will make utes much better to drive in the powertrain department but much work could still be done on making utes ride and handle far more decently than they do today, regardless of power source. There are signs of this occurring in the US market, where Ford’s larger F-150 Lightning EV ute has an independent rear suspension.
The basic theme continues inside the eT60, though its cabin appointments are notably nicer than some utes on the market. The upholstery is vinyl but both front pews are electrically-adjustable, and the LDV’s 10-inch landscape touchscreen is very high resolution, and packs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
But a plastic steering wheel on a $93K vehicle jars—as does the huge blanking plate on one of the wheel’s spokes where cruise control would normally sit. This ute doesn’t have cruise—manual, let alone adaptive. Perhaps that’s fine, given its firmly urban-level electric range.
Not only is cruise control of any sort missing, concerningly, so too are any modern semi-autonomous safety features. You get stability control (as is legally required), plus a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, but the eT60 does not have AEB, lane-keeping assist or blind spot monitoring.
Surprisingly, the eT60 is based on the entry-grade diesel version. Despite the high price, don’t go expecting premium features—the headlights are halogen and manual, there is no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, and you’ll find just four speakers.
Back seat space is decent for adults, however, and the big, nearly square 1510mm x 1485mm x 530mm tub out the back has plenty of room and that decent 1000kg payload to play with. There are four tie down hooks in the tray.
While four-wheel drive is missing, the eT60 retains some impressive capabilities on paper, including 550mm wading depth, though ground clearance is reduced from 215mm to 187mm. Approach, ramp-over and departure angles are 27, 17 and 24 degrees respectively. However, the full-size spare of the standard T60 is not present here. You get a tyre repair kit.
Oddly, despite the diesel T60 upgrading to a seven year/200,000km warranty as of this month, the eT60—which many would assume to be more reliable due to fewer moving parts—retains LDV’s five year/160,000km vehicle warranty, with roadside assist included for that period. The battery is warranted to eight years/160,000km.
We’re yet to fully road test the eT60 on our own road loop, and subject it to our usual EV range and recharging testing. All of that is yet to come.
For now, it’s praiseworthy that LDV is gutsily introducing a turn-key electric ute solution to its Australian range. The eT60 is competent to drive, with an impressive powertrain and reasonable ride and handling dynamics.
However, there’s no avoiding that the eT60 is extremely expensive for what it is: a basic 4×2 work ute that’s had its old-school diesel engine removed to make way for a fairly basic electric motor and battery.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that character—but it clarifies that there is fertile ground for another entrant to demonstrate stronger value for money with an electric version of the ute form factor Aussies know and love. At $93K, it’s a big ask for any customer bar taxpayer-powered government fleets.
Overall rating 6.5
Keyword: LDV eT60 electric ute 2023 review