September 17, 2019

TGE: a good fit to extend MAN’s offer

Developing a totally new van of any size is an expensive business. The larger the vehicle, the higher the required investment, as multiple wheelbases and roof heights become a necessary addition, along with chassis cabs and other conversion-specific models.

Far better then to badge an existing model, an even easier choice when the other manufacturer is a sister company. That has certainly been the case for MAN Truck & Bus, one of the Volkswagen group’s heavy truck businesses, that moved into the van market with the TGE line-up two years ago.

However, while using the VW Crafter as a starting point has made it easier for MAN to establish a van business, it didn’t ensure that sales would automatically follow. There has to be a reason for a potential customer to search out an MAN dealership, when they could probably just as easily walk into their local Volkswagen Van Centre.

What MAN has had to do, is find a USP that will attract those heavy van buyers. That selling point is the fact that MAN’s dealers are used to selling and servicing heavy goods vehicles. Its sales people understand LCV customer needs, they have the contacts to provide specialist conversions and, perhaps most importantly for some customers, their dealerships work around the clock to provide out of hours servicing and repair facilities.

Of course, MAN is not alone in offering this heavy truck emphasis, with Mercedes-Benz, Iveco and Renault Trucks all competing on a similar footing. But it does give the company a way in to fleets, particularly those belonging to existing truck customers.

That doesn’t mean that MAN has had to restrict its TGE line-up to the heavier models. TGE can be ordered in a range of gross weights, with front, rear or all-wheel drive. There is a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions and a host of body lengths and heights can be mixed and matched to suit requirements.

This long wheelbase, high roof TGE is perhaps the most popular option, providing a mid-range 14.4m3 load volume, with a very usable payload of 1,178kg.

The van has a comfortable, well-equipped cab with a generous standard specification, that includes a 5” infotainment screen with USB connection and Bluetooth. There is also a multi-function steering wheel to help navigate through the system.

As with Crafter, the adoption of electromechanical steering allows a host of safety and assistance systems to be offered, with ESC and Cross Wind Assist, hill start assist and a bodybuilder module with telematic preparation all standard on the base model. MAN can also provide a range of safety packages, driver assistance and comfort options, along with industry-specific kits for tipper and dropside conversion.

The vans are powered by VW’s 2.0-litre TDi engine, with a choice of 102bhp, 140bhp and 177bhp in front-wheel drive models. Rear-driven vans with single rear wheels can be specified with the 140bhp or 177bhp engines, while for some reason, twin rear wheel models can have a stand-alone 122bhp rating, or the 177bhp.

This 140bhp engine offers plenty of pulling power for a 3.5-tonne van, backed up by a strong 340Nm of torque. The six-speed manual is also more than capable of making comfortable progress, though in day to day use the optional eight-speed automatic is well worth the money if you can justify the premium.

Talking at the recent CV Show, MAN claimed that it is not chasing volume, preferring to sell to the right customers to achieve healthy long-term prices. With the addition of minibuses and a chassis cowl model, with a low-floor chassis, MAN is certainly expanding the range of TGEs that it has on offer. Add in the backing of a 24-hour truck network and it’s easy to see why the firm’s sales are growing.