Chinese brand Asiastar launches electric vans, buses in Australia

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Little-known Chinese company Asiastar is preparing to launch a range of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter-esque electric commercial vehicles in Australia in the coming months.


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A Chinese company called Asiastar is due to introduce a range of electric vans, cab-chassis vehicles and buses in Australia in the coming months, priced from about $100,000.

The vehicles – which bear a strong resemblance to Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans – will be imported by the company behind Foton light trucks in Australia.

The Asiastar van, cab-chassis and bus – all with electric power – will initially be sold via three showrooms in Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney, with plans to expand additional east-coast dealers and Perth outlets in the second half of this year.

A spokesperson for the importer told Drive about 175 Asiastar vehicles are planned to be brought into Australia for 2024, mostly comprised of vans, with a small number of cab chassis – and the bus a special order.

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Asiastar’s website says it has a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz, which would go some way to explaining why the Chinese van – priced from $95,000 plus on-road costs – is very similar in style, size and interior design to a previous-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

It follows other Chinese commercial vehicles from little-known companies in Australia, such as the Joylong E6, which is a look-a-like of an older Toyota HiAce.

The Asiastar van – available in a single body size and roof height – will be an alternative to large electric delivery vans from established brands, such as the Ford E-Transit, incoming Mercedes eSprinter, and Chinese-made LDV eDeliver 9.

Priced from $95,000 plus on-road costs, the Asiastar van quotes 10.5 cubic metres of load space and standard barn rear doors, as well as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and a rear-view camera.

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These features are also standard on the cab chassis ($90,000 plus on-road costs) – apart from the reversing camera – and bus (about $140,000).

All three have a 4500kg gross vehicle mass (GVM), meaning they can be driven on a standard car driver licence.

The van and cab chassis will be available with a choice of 70kWh or 105.6kWh batteries – the latter the largest offered in an electric van in Australia – both supplied by Chinese company CATL, and an electric motor developing 140kW and 410Nm.

Driving range between charges is an estimated 300km, with DC fast charging at up to 40kW replenishing the 70kWh battery in a claimed two hours, or 2.5 hours for the 105.6kWh battery.

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Asiastar claims a 1480kg payload with the larger battery, or a 1700kg payload with the smaller battery.

The cab chassis starts at $90,000 before on-road costs and is designed for a tray or Pantech arrangement, offering a 1650-1870kg payloads.

The 12-seat bus will be available with the larger battery only – with a 1250kg payload – and is fitted as standard with a manual folding step, fixed handrail, and cloth or vinyl seats.

It will be priced from about $140,000 in Australia, depending on the number of seats chosen – up to 12 – with customisation of its interior carried out locally.

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As with other large commercial vans, the Asiastar has not been – and is highly unlikely to be – crash tested by ANCAP.

Asiastar’s local distributor plans to offer a five-year/200,000km vehicle warranty, 30,000km service intervals, and an eight-year/300,000km battery warranty.

While electric-car sales increased in 2023, only 212 were light commercial vehicles – out of 274,185 total light commercial vehicle sales, dominated by diesel power – up from 53 in 2022.

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