Next month it will start to import the Piaggio Porter, more familiar here as the Daihatsu HiJet.
While Daihatsu imports only the petrol-engined version built by Piaggio in Italy, Reliant will ship in the 38bhp 1.4-litre diesel Porter. The engine is built by Italian specialist Lombardini, which also makes the 505cc petrol and diesel engines for Ligier's Ambra.
Reliant already has a strong relationship with Piaggio. A year ago, it began importing the Piaggio Ape, the three-wheel commercial van powered by a 50cc engine. Prices start at £2,675 and because it is classified as a moped, the road fund licence is just £15.
Piaggio is responsible for Ligier distribution across Europe and Reliant will import the latest Ligier Ambra from next month. Reliant's factory in Burntwood, Staffs, will be used to offer more than 50 special equipment versions of the small van.
Prices start at £5,459 for the chassis cab and £5,995 for the pick-up and panel van. Four-wheel drive versions, as well as LPG and electric powered vans, are also planned. A spokesman believes Reliant will add sales to the LCV sector as well as taking conquest business from rivals.
“The UK market for microvans is about 6,000 a year – nearly all Daihatsu and Suzuki. We think there is scope for it to grow considerably,” he said.
Reliant currently has 110 dealers, but only a small proportion retails all three brands – Reliant, Ligier and Piaggio. “We are now looking for additional dealers to sell our LCV range,” said the spokesman at the Birmingham motor show.