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UK sales launch for Santana 4x4

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A Spanish-made version of the obsolete Land Rover Series III will go on sale in the UK next year, targeted at agricultural users and utility companies.

Importer Fourtec, of Dereham, Norfolk, will appoint 10 dealers initially, and build the network to a possible 30. First imports are expected next October.

The PS10, in the final stages of development, will be built from the spring by Santana Motor at Linares, southern Spain. PS10 will be powered by a 125bhp 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine sourced from Iveco. It will use a Santana-built transmission and leaf springs, like the original Series III and unlike today's coil-sprung Land Rovers.

Sanata was once part-owned by Ford-owned Land Rover which has no connection with the UK distribution.

Fourtec was founded by John Crocker and handles agricultural equipment and animal feedstock sales.

He said the retail network would probably include agricultural machinery dealers because they knew the market. Fourtec also hopes to sell directly to water, electricity, gas and forestry utilities.

Entering the UK first will be a long wheelbase model priced around £12,500. Short wheelbase, chassis-cab and pick-up versions are also planned.

Land Rover provided Santana with a licence to build off-roaders until the early Eighties. A Land Rover spokesman said: “We enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Santana, but we haven't done business with them for nearly 20 years now. We wish them well.”

When Land Rover pulled out, Santana began making 4x4s under licence for Suzuki which once held an 82% share in Santana, but withdrew its stake after a financial crisis in the mid Nineties.

Santana, wholly owned by the Andalucian regional government, builds the Jimny, Vitara and Samurai models on behalf of Suzuki for sale across Europe. Output this year will be around 34,000 vehicles.

The launch of the Series III-derived PS10 marks a return to Santana's roots.

Keith MacGregor, Sanata export sales manager, said: “This is a tough vehicle, built to Suzuki standards, for the worst kind of terrain in the world.”

Mr MacGregor expects to sell most of the planned 8,000 to 10,000 annual production in developing markets where conditions are most primitive. Santana took the PS10 initiative after it learned of Nissan's plan to end production of its Patrol model in Spain next year.

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