After the relatively quiet halls of the CV Operators’ Show in 2010 it was pleasing to see the visitors queuing to get into the first full CV Show since 2008.
Despite one or two of the truck manufacturers noticeable in their absence, the 370 exhibitors meant that there was enough for the visitors to get their teeth into. Most of the van makers were there with an impressive showing and the halls were brimming with companies offering retrofit solutions for trucks and vans to meet the impending 2012 deadline for compliance with London’s LEZ.
There was a sensation around the show that there may be some business to be done – the visitors looked as though they meant business and were not simply there to look at some trucks and kick a few tyres. Speaking after the busy first day at the Show, DAF Trucks boss, Ray Ashworth said Daf had counted at least 1,200 people across its stand and he was delighted with the air of optimism. “It’s great to see the market coming back,” he said.
Renault Vans, have even claimed a first sale of their new ZE Kangoo – six months ahead of actually being available in the UK. The order for six Kangoo ZE vans was placed by long-standing customer of Renault, J C Decaux. Darren Payne, Director of Fleet and Commercial Vehicle Operations at Renault UK, said: “The fact that a company of JCDecaux’s size and reputation is investing in six Kangoo Van Z.E.s, is a fantastic third-party endorsement of our commitment to zero-emission vehicles.” They must be a good customer, for although the Kangoos are ‘cheap’ for electric vans, they still cost £16,990+VAT and this does not include the batteries which have to be leased at £59 a month.
Representing Iveco trucks and vans, Central belt Iveco dealership Guests and their newly acquired Sherwood brand put together an excellent stand featuring a new Stralis and Daily. Talking at the end of the show, managing director, Rob Spittle is surprised that more dealers didn’t take the opportunity – even though the cost topped £25,000. He tells us, “We usually entertain our guests and feed them in a hospitality area – we have transferred the budget to putting a stand together and have been very pleased with the results.”
Another company hoping to move metal at the show was MAN. On their stand the ingeniously liveried TopUsed tractor unit was attracting plenty of attention. With graphics to match the MAN’s TopUsed truck advertising, TopUsed Sales Director, Rael Winetroube was pleased at the levels of interest. Commenting on the opening day of the show, he tells us, “We have had plenty of serious interest already. We would love to have someone come and order five of these tractor units today. That is our aim.”
It wasn’t only MAN with a used vehicle on show, Ford took it one step further with a 220,000 mile example of a 2003 Transit Connect – most of our readers see those day, day out! The van has been well serviced by M53 Ford at Birkenhead and Ellesmere Port.
Ford was trumped on the age of their second-hand vehicle on show, as pride of place on the Volkswagen stand was an original split screen Transporter. As a contrast, VW had their line-up of facelifted and new product. The (relatively) new Transporter, new Caddy and the brand new Amarok pick up in right hand drive for the first time in the UK. All that was missing is the revised Crafter that will appear later this year.
The Volkswagen Amarok launch was the usual elaborate affair, although the colour of the show model has to be questioned – Is it green or brown? – We can’t see that colour flying out or the showroom door!
Volkswagen also released the technical specifications for the Amarok. It has the lowest CO2 emissions in the sector – it is the first pick-up to break the 200 g/km threshold. The 2.0-litre TDI 122PS engine available in Startline specification, produces 199g/km, while the 163 PS Bi-turbo models has a CO2 emissions figure of 209 g/km. All models are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Performance is equally impressive. The 122 PS engine can achieve 0-62 mph in 13.7 seconds, while the 163 PS unit reaches 62 mph from a standstill in 11.1 seconds. The maximum towing weight is up to 2,800 kg for the Amarok Highline with permanent 4MOTION, or 2,690 kg for models with selectable 4MOTION. Practicality is good – operators can even fit a Euro Pallet between the wheel arches.
A brand new and kept a secret until the show itself was Ford’s latest Transit SportVan initiative. The company claims that it is total one-off, although if potential demand is high from the Birmingham visitors maybe we could see something like it at Ford dealers?
Ford’s five-cylinder 3.2-litre, 200PS Duratorq TDCi engine has been shoehorned into a standard short wheelbase Transit SportVan, for maximum power-to-weight ratio.
Steve Clary, commercial vehicles director, Ford of Britain, explained: “Transit has a strong reputation for its robustness and practicality. We wanted to add some contemporary fun and also showcase our engineers’ skill and enthusiasm. SuperSportVan demonstrates just how far you can go with a white Transit van by mixing and matching regular technology in a different way.”
Of course Ford also had the 2012 model Euro 5 Transit on display. Visually there’s not much to tell it from the current model, but Ford tell us that there have been plenty of changes to the drivetrain making it the greenest model available yet, despite hitting the stricter particulate reduction targets set in the Euro 5 standard.
Using variable geometry turbocharging, higher-pressure injection, an upgraded EGR system and a coated DPF. Further technical wizardry is available to reduce emissions further, including regenerative charging, stop and start and a speed limiter.
Not content with the new Euro 5 Transit, Ford also showed us their new Ranger for the first time in the UK. Following the trend of the Navara, the Ranger is in stature closer to the F150 in the states than the P100 heritage that we have in the UK.
The oversized new Ranger gets a choice of three cab body styles – Single Cab, RAP (Rear Access Panel) Cab and Double Cab – along with the option of 4×2 and 4×4 drivetrains, and two ride heights.
Customers can choose between two new Ford Duratorq TDCi diesels which deliver improved power, torque and fuel efficiency: 2.2-litre (150PS and 375Nm) and 3.2-litre (200PS and 470Nm).
The towing capacity leads the class with a massive 3,350kg, plus a payload capacity of up to 1,333kg on models with the 2.2-litre diesel engine.
Finally, of interest on the Ford stand, (if we ignore the penalty shootout gimmick,) was the new electric Connect from Azure Dynamics which goes on sale in June this year. Visually no different to the standard Connect, it can travel up to 80 miles between charges with a top speed of 75 mph. The Connect can be fully charged with a standard plug in eight hours and carries a payload of just 500kg. From launch, the electric Connect will only be sold through Ford’s company owned dealer group in the UK – Ford Retail, although this may be rolled out at a later stage, should the demand arise, (see Industry News for more details).
Mercedes too were showing off their electric van – the Vito E-Cell. Where the Vito differs is that it is made on the Vito line in Spain alongside the standard Vitos, rather than being fitted afterwards by another company. As you would expect, the E-Cell’s payload is larger than the Connect’s at 900kg, whilst the range is the same at 80 miles. The downside is the charge time – using a standard plug it can take up to 12 hours, although it will accept a charge in roughly six hours from a 380/400V source.
Nissan’s impressive stand contained plenty of different vehicles from their wide range – including the new NV400. Based on the Renault Master/Vauxhall Movano, the NV400 will hit UK dealers in October this year.
Citroen’s impressive ‘business class’ themed stand caught the attention of many visitors with their female flight attendants on hand at all times. A full range was on display – including the new Dispatch Crew Van from Citroen’s ready to run range and the Euro 5 Nemo.
Fiat’s successor to the Grande Punto van, the Punto Evo van, was on show. Available with a 1.0m3 load space it will be in showrooms from about June.
There will be just the one model initially, a 1.3JTD 95bhp Euro 5 DPF with Stop&Start, developing 200Nm at 1,500rpm. The five-speed manual Punto Evo emits 110g/km of CO2. The current Grande Punto Van will remain on sale for at least the remainder of 2011.
Renault’s massive stand – twice the size of last year – contained no fewer than fourteen vans – including their new range of Master conversions which will be available in the next few months. These conversions include four from the factory itself – box, dropside, tipper and 17 seat minibus and two aftermarket conversions – a Luton and curtainsider.
A new van manufacturer to the show was Hyundai with their iLoad van – the guys on the stand were surprised that not many visitors knew that Hyundai sold vans too. Despite having sold around 800 vans in the UK this might be a signal for them to increase their advertising spend? With a 2-3 month waiting list for one, the 25 specialist van dealers are doing a good job. The Combi version looked well made and good value for money with a list price of around £16,000+VAT – it simply needs a bit more power than the 114bhp it achieves from the 2.5 litre Euro 5 diesel.
Hyundai weren’t the only van newcomers to the show – Indian Giant Tata had their new electric van on show. Tata is the owner of, amongst others, Jaguar Land Rover, Corus Steel and Tetley Tea. Their CV Show offering, whilst certainly different, disguises well their link to the Jaguar styling department. The Tata Ace EV is a knock down kit from India that will be assembled in Coventry from September this year.
The electrics are all designed at Tata’s Uk design centre and run on lead acid batteries giving a range of just 25 miles and a maximum speed of just 25mph with an eight hour charge time. With the speed and range restrictions, this van won’t suit many uses, but should find a niche – the company hopes to sell 1,500 units in the first two years of production. To achieve this, Tata will need dealers and are looking for companies with some experience in marketing to local authorities etc. At just £12,500, the Tata Ace EV is affordable at least. But with no road tax, MoT, congestion charges or parking fees in central London strange niches could be found for it. One example that has appeared already is for a sandwich company to use as a billboard. Spend £12,500 and leave it in Central London in a visible location for free – much cheaper than buying a 48-sheet poster site for a few months!
As far as the trucks were concerned, a depleted turnout did not mean a lack of news. The truckmakers on show were DAF, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Iveco (courtesy of Guests) and Hino and all were keen to make the most of the money they had spent in getting there. The market leaders DAF and Mercedes-Benz spared little expense on their stands – DAF asked their dealers to bring along customers by the busload to have lunch with them 1,000 people at a time in a large marquee attached to the stand. Over the three days DAF served out over 3,500 lunches.
DAF Marketing Director, Tony Pain explains the rationale behind the scale of the operation, “It would be a lot more expensive and take a lot longer to send our guys around the country in cars visiting this number of customers.” The event is not about taking orders for trucks; it is all about renewing relationships and acquaintances. The chat appears to be less about trucks and more about the business end.” DAF were displaying the new 12-tonne LF hybrid that recently went into production in Leyland. Whilst the company has been busy demonstrating the hybrid to a number of companies and a few orders are on the way from the greenest companies, little demand volume has been seen as yet, as the 70% higher cost price is difficult to justify, despite 20% fuel savings.
Mercedes-Benz focused on their driver training initiative, with the clock now well and truly ticking down to September 2014 – by when anyone driving a vehicle with a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes or more must be in possession of a valid Driver Certificate of Professional Competence – Mercedes-Benz showed one of the 6×2 Actros 2546 MegaSpace trucks from the Mercedes-Benz Driver Training Team’s fleet of specially converted vehicles.
MAN had plenty of news to shout about from their bright stand which, departing from recent trends, displayed a series of vehicles in customer livery. The company used the show to launch their ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ initiative. This idea is to move the emphasis away from the purchase price of the truck in the relationship between truck maker and operator and concentrate instead on reducing the costs that make up the remaining 90% of the operator’s costs. Key to this is MAN’s ECOStyle driver and vehicle performance management system. Other cost control initiatives include the MAN finance and Warranty3 package – the only range-wide three-year warranty for trucks in the UK. The truck rental arm has also launched a new brand, ‘iMAN’ – where every rental vehicle comes complete with MAN’s EcoStyle ‘vehicle and driver’ fleet management system within the rental package.
The Hino stand had been put together thanks to the Hino dealer association and business appeared brisk.
The timing couldn’t have been better for the companies behind the technology to convert older vehicles to meet the new requirements for particle emissions required for the next phase of London’s LEZ in January next year – just seven months away.
At least seven companies had systems on show – and they all claim that there are significant business opportunities for commercial vehicle dealers, either to operate as installers or to capitalise on some late Euro 3 vehicles and convert them to be 2012 LEZ compliant. What is clear, however, is that there is not one straightforward system that every company uses to clean up the emissions. Different technologies are used in different ways – depending on how the vehicle is to be used. If the truck will always be used at low speeds in London the filtration kit will be different (and more expensive) than for those trucks that also blast up and down the motorway. In the June issue of CV Dealer we shall be reviewing the systems in more detail.
Bodybuilders, the Bevan Group, have launched an attractive and functional-looking Luton body for the Sprinter and Crafter called the Icon. With a lightweight and aerodynamic body, the van can achieve a payload of 1.3 tonnes with a 30m3 loadspace. The Luton is so new, no comparative test have been carried out yet, but the design, carried out alongside Hatcher and Cranfield University has set out to achieve savings of around 9% on fuel. Costs of the new body are expected to be approximately 15-20% higher than a standard Luton body.
Raftcliff were showing off their R15 twin-fold 1500kg capacity Tukaway, with a 1400mm deep x 2150 wide, double-folding aluminium platform. This is the result of a joint development by Ratcliff and group partner MBB and is manufactured by MBB in
Germany. At the lower end of the scale the company showed the larger (500kg) of the two lifts from their recently launched range of internally-stowed light van lifts.
Aerodynamics specialist Hatcher was showing off their ‘work in progress’ – a roof spoiler for the Mercedes Actros, which monitors wind pressure, and a series of other variables then adjusts the height of the spoiler accordingly to maintain the optimum profile. They had their best team on the technology and their worst one on the naming after Freddie comes – “Active Freddie”. Savings of a few percent are anticipated, although the system has yet to be fully trialled.
Northgate’s remarketing arm, Van Monster, chose to use the CV Show to demonstrate their range of vans for sale. Locating their sales pitch as an external exhibit, the sales team were cold, but, thanks to the pitch being on the bus route from the car park, the visitor numbers were reasonably high for an outside exhibit. Retail Sales Director, John Woodall told us, “It has been a very good show for us – we’ve got plenty of leads and the people we have met have been serious buyers – we need to see how they convert, but at the moment it looks like we’ll definitely be back next year.”
So will we.