January 23, 2019

Vans galore at CV Show

The focus of the CV Show at the NEC in Birmingham was vans as most truck manufacturers were absent. It was a bumper year for LCVs with a record number of new vehicles unveiled.

PSA

The PSA mid-range replacement for the Citroën Dispatch and Peugeot Expert (and Proace for Toyota) hits the spot, according to a very unscientific straw poll by VanUser. It’s good-looking, clever, flexible – a van for today. It made its premiere at the CV Show.

The vehicle, according to Citroën senior design manager Andy Cowell, is the product of a process that began six years ago with a ‘think group’ comprising representatives from the marketing and design departments.

“It’s a relatively fluid process,” says Andy. “We look at the negative and positive points of the exisiting product and at the market and how it’s evolving. Then we can start to look at what we really want to achieve.”

The concensus was a concept that moved the van “a little sideways, a little upwards”, but still, at the core, a functional load carrier.

“But the segment began to split after we had started the project with brands like VW and Mercedes taking the market in different directions,” recalls Andy.

Van manufacturers were beginning to take their cue from people carriers and cars, becoming more driver orientated and raising the bar on comfort and technology.

“We felt we needed to move towards that side of the market,” says Andy, “as well as looking at a smaller footprint.”

The result is a van that’s available in one height but in three lengths, including a short – at 4.6m a first for the sector – compared to the mid and long at 4.95m and 5.3m respectively.

Keeping the van compact without compromising load volume was achieved in part by raising the position of the driver, something that drivers themselves were asking for.

While it’s something of a cliché that vans are becoming more car-like with every new model, this vehicle exemplifies it. As Andy puts it, “bringing technology from one segment into another that traditionally didn’t have it”. That includes connectivity, navigation, ‘infotainment’ but also features like the clever device that allows hands-free opening of the electrically-operated sliding doors. “It’s about making life easier for the driver, reducing fatigue” says Andy.

It’s been six years in the making and Andy compares the process to architecture, “like building a house”. Whatever way you look at it, this is a van we’ll be seeing plenty of.

TOYOTA

Toyota has signalled a renewed commitment to the commercial vehicle sector with a return to the CV Show for the first time since 2008 for the unveiling of its new Proace van range and the latest Hilux – both seen for the first time in the UK at the show. Toyota has also appointed its first UK LCV manager, Gareth Matthews, a clear indication that it intends to become a serious player in the sector, reaching beyond its undoubted strength in the pick-up market.

First UK customer deliveries of the eighth generation Hilux are expected in July. While for many it has long been the workhorse pick-up of choice, it comes to market at a time of unprecedented competition with established models and newcomers jockeying for market share. Against that backdrop, Gareth will be content to at least hold volume.

But Proace is a different proposition. It gives Toyota a wider van range than ever before, while extending its Verso variant with its people-carrier offering.

Sharing the same platform as the new Citroën Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, it will be built in France by Citroën, distinct from its stablemates by its front-end styling. With an established relationship with PSA through the Aygo car, Toyota was involved early on in the project, says Gareth. Its engineers were tasked with ensuring what Toyota calls its QDR credentials – quality, durability and reliability – were met.

Toyota will use its existing dealer network for LCV sales and Gareth says a LCV training programme is being rolled out for the 70 Business Centres. “We want to extend the skills of the network as well as teaching the dealers how to find the opportunities locally,” he says.

The company is already strong in fleet through both Toyota and Lexus cars and Hilux. Gareth expects brand loyalty will be a factor in Proace sales – with a target of 2,500 in the first full year. The Proace order book is now open with first deliveries to customers expected in September. At the CV Show, Toyota also announced a new five-year warranty for its LCV range in the UK.

The new package will be offered with the Proace Van and new Hilux.

FIAT

FIAT Professional’s Fullback pick-up made its UK debut at the show. The medium-duty pick-up will join the UK range in June, along with the new Talento and Fiorino, and will be available with a double cab. The Fullback will offer a payload up to 1,045kg and will be powered by a 2.4l turbo-diesel engine with a power output of either 150hp or 180hp. Two transmissions will be available, a new six-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic transmission with sports mode, and both will be combined with full four-wheel drive systems.

LDV

LDV, now owned and manufactured by Chinese automotive giant SAIC and distributed in the UK and Ireland by Dublin-based Harris Group, was back at the CV Show where the first electric version of the V80 was unveiled. The LDV EV80, the first Chinese production-ready, all-electric, light-duty van, is expected to be on sale in the last quarter of this year.

The EV80 is a full electric vehicle with zero emissions coupled with a claimed range of 350km (217 miles) on a single charge. It will be available as a panel van (short and long wheel base) and chassis cab that can be fitted with a range of customer-specific bodies with a rated loaded capacity ranging from 900-1,250kgs of cargo.

The EV80 is fitted with a lithium iron phosphate battery, permanent magnet synchronous electric motor and an intelligent electric motor control system. SAIC claims this technology combination helps the EV80 to offer high-efficiency and steady power output for the operational life of the vehicle, while intelligent switching between the vehicle’s three power modes leads to “a seamless speed change and gives an exceptionally smooth and quiet driving experience”. Fast battery charging time is around two hours.

Also making its first appreance in the UK was the mid-range LDV G10 which will be available as a panel van and people carrier. Like the V80, the G10 will be highly specced as standard and will come with a five year or 200,000km (125k miles) warranty, including five years’ roadside assistance cover.

“The response from dealers to the re-launch of LDV both in the UK and Ireland has been phenomenal,” said Mark Barrett, general manager of LDV UK & Ireland. “We are well ahead of our forecasts with almost 40 dealers on-board, 11 of whom are in the UK with many more signings imminent in the UK and Ireland.

“I think this is indicative of the strength of the new LDV range and spec and the confidence and trust that the market has in the future of the brand, particularly given SAIC’s investment in LDV, which is set to top $2.9bn by 2020.”

IVECO

Iveco has completed its Euro 6 engine update for the Daily van line-up. Several Euro 6 engines had been available for some time for heavier Daily models, but now all diesel Daily vans and chassis cabs will be powered by a range of 2.3l and 3.0l Euro 6 motors.

The engines deliver 120-210hp with torque outputs of 320-470Nm. However Iveco claims up to 8% fuel savings are possible with a 12% cut in maintenance costs. The company also claims that the Euro 6 engines contribute to a 4dB cut in noise levels in the cab.

There are additional improvements inside the vans, with a revised layout that provides 18 storage compartments. There are DAB digital radios as standard and multiple USB points, there’s even an inductive charging system for mobile phones available as an option.

The big news though is Iveco’s Daily Business Up application, which can be used as a driver’s assistant through Driving Style Evaluation, while also providing satellite navigation services.

“This innovative app serves as a driver assistant, providing real-time driving suggestions which result in significant fuel savings,” said Raffaele Di Donfrancesco, Iveco Daily Business Line director.

“It also creates a seamless connection between our customers’ back office and their vehicle, which becomes a fully functional mobile office.”

The eight-speed Hi-Matic automatic transmission launched on several Euro 5 Daily models is now available with all Euro 6 engines. An increasingly popular choice, Iveco sold more than 10,000 Hi-Matic Daily vans in Europe last year.

Iveco is also offering the Daily Natural Power, with compressed natural gas engines rather than diesel power. In addition the firm has unveiled a second generation Daily Electric van, despite few sales of the original electric vehicle in the UK.

RENAULT

Renault was celebrating strong sales figures – including the news that the 200,000th Trafic had been delivered in the UK – at the CV Show.

Speaking on the eve of the show Steve Wilson, LCV product manager Renault UK, said the company’s LCV sales were “absolutely soaring” with the brand consistently outpacing the market. In the first quarter of the year, sales grew by 21%.

The latest third generation Trafic, available in over 70 variants in the UK, has been a considerable part of that success.

“The Trafic has proved very successful in the UK since it was first launched here 35 years ago” said Steve. “To achieve 200,000 sales shows the Trafic really hit a chord with business users in the UK. It has innovated in the van market since 1981, offering a robust, user-friendly vehicle in a wide number of bodystyles and conversion options. The latest Trafic has proved fantastically popular since launching here in late 2014 and helped Renault LCVs to a record year in the UK in 2015.”

DFSK

DFSK launched its new C35 van at the show. With dimensions less than those of the average family car the C35 retains the DFSK signature – compact vehicle size with a loadspace capacity of 5m3 combined with a payload of up to 750kg, loaded through the rear and two side cargo doors. Prices for DFSK’s range of Chinese-built vehicles start at £8,750.

FORD

Though not showing any new vans as such, Ford demonstrated the power behind its commercial vehicle range for the future with the launch of the 2.0l EcoBlue engine. The UK-built EcoBlue engine will replace the 2.2l motor in both front and rear wheel drive Transit models and in the Transit Custom in time for Euro 6 emissions standards in September.

The clean-sheet design EcoBlue engine delivers power outputs of 100hp, 130hp and 170hp initially, though Ford says that ratings above 200hp will be possible in the future. Despite providing up to 20% more low down torque than the previous engines, Ford is claiming a 13% fuel efficiency improvement across the range.

The new engine is also said to deliver passenger car levels of noise and refinement, with a noise reduction of 4dB at idle.

“This new engine lifts fuel efficiency and reduces CO2 by over 10% in Transit, part of Europe’s best-selling commercial vehicle line-up, lowering costs for our customers,” said Jim Farley, chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe.

The engine will meet future European emissions requirements supported by Ford’s first standardised selective catalytic reduction system. The system is close-coupled to the rear of the engine for maximum efficiency and excellent cold-driving performance. A short-loop exhaust gas recirculation channel is incorporated into the cylinder head, contributing to a more compact engine design and helping optimise cooling of gases.

The after-treatment system also cuts NOx emissions by 55% for Euro 6, while a more compact turbocharger has been designed to deliver more air at lower engine rpm, for increased drivability across the range.

ISUZU

Isuzu was showing its most extreme D-Max model yet. The D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 is “engineered to excel in the most arduous terrain, whether in the wilds of the British countryside or on building sites in the city”. Available in either double-cab or extended-cab configurations, the AT35 is priced from £30,995.

VOLKSWAGEN

VW marked its return to the CV Show this year with the announcement of a new Converter Recognition Programme – and a new Crafter-based tipper for its ‘Engineered to Go’ range.

The Converter Recognition Programme aims to build on VW’s Engineered to Go and Engineered for You programmes, extending the range of off-the-shelf and bespoke conversions on offer and further guaranteeing the quality of the products available directly from VW’s dedicated Van Centre network.

The changes to the programmes see the introduction of a number of new quality and technical criteria to which converter partners must adhere in order to be part of the conversion offering. VW says the alterations have been developed “to improve quality further, simplify the aftersales service and increase customer convenience”.

A new three-tiered approach has been developed to suit the differing converter agreements that Volkswagen operates (Registered Bodybuilder, Integrated Partner and Premium Partner). At each level, converter partners will be required to undergo regular converter audits to ensure the quality of the products available, as well as deliver minimum type approval certification for each conversion.

VW says customers will be provided with a ‘one stop shop’ for converted vehicles, meaning that their chosen Van Centre takes care of the whole conversion process. Not only does this increase the convenience for the customer and mean only one invoice will be received when purchased via the Van Centre, but also that when the vehicle is delivered it is ready-for-use straight away.

Nick Axtell, specialist sales manager at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, commented: “The changes to the ‘Engineered to Go’ and Engineered for You’ programmes are another example of how Volkswagen is working together with its customers to develop and evolve our products and service to help meet their business needs. The alterations to the conversions offering will allow us to not only further develop the current range of off the shelf solutions we offer, but also help us to deliver an improved customer experience.”