EUROPE’S biggest commercial vehicle show has just wrapped up in Hannover.
Mark Bursa takes a look at the LCV stars of the 2010 IAA.
LIKE the Caddy and Transporter, the “new” Mercedes-Benz Vito is really just a comprehensive facelift. And as with the Volkswagens, Mercedes has focused on interior build quality, much-improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions levels. VW has Bluemotion, and Mercedes has BlueEfficiency – and Vito now includes stop-start in a bid to improve fuel consumption – more than 40mpg on some models, while CO2 emissions are now as low as 182g/km.
AND if that’s not enough for you, how about a zero-emissions Vito? The Vito E-Cell is the first factory-made battery-electric van to be introduced by any automobile manufacturer, and it’s already in production. The Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell has an 80-mile range, making it ideal for inner-city operations. It imposes no restrictions on the operator in terms of load capacity and payload. Production of 2,000 units are planned in 2011.
RENAULT owners will recognise Nissan’s latest big van, the NV400. It’s another re-nosed version of the impressive new Renault Master – also available as the Vauxhall Movano. It will replace the Interstar in Nissan’s range. Two years ago, Nissan was promising it would move away from Renault-designed vans – but since then, the LCV industry has had a dose of reality – so the Renault-Nissan alliance is once again sharing its technology. Nissan buyers won’t be complaining – NV400 looks good, and we know how well the Master performs.
Opel Vivaro E-Concept
OTHER manufacturers are also thinking electric. Here’s the Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro E-Concept, which takes the ‘range-extender’ concept of the Vauxhall Ampera and installs it in a delivery van, giving more than 60 miles of pure electric driving range, and on longer journeys an extended range of up to 250 miles, as a constant-speed petrol generator engine takes over as power source to the electric motor once the batteries are depleted. Lithium ion batteries are mounted under the floor, so the van still has 5.0cu m of load capacity and up to 750kg of payload. The batteries can be recharged on a standard household 240V outlet.
Renault Kangoo Express ZE
RENAULT is sticking with pure battery-electric propulsion as the way forward, and electric delivery vans will play a big role in populating the roads with zero-emissions Renaults. This Kangoo Express ZE will be the first electric Renault, and it was at IAA, showing off how you’ll be able to charge it up for 100 miles of zero-emissions motoring through a nose-mounted charge point. In the UK, it will sell for £16,990 excluding VAT, though the £5,000 incentive for electric cars is not currently available on LCVs. Electric vans are, however, eligible for 100% capital write-down allowance. Ownership of the vehicle will be separate to that of the battery. Customers will be able to purchase, or rent, their ZE van and take out a subscription for the battery from £59 per month (ex-VAT), based on 9,000 miles per year for four years. The German gentleman in the blue shirt and “Rudi Völler” mullet-and-tache combo is clearly impressed!
VW Amarok Single Cab
WE’VE already driven the double-cab version of the new Volkswagen Amarok pick-up, and at Hannover, Volkswagen unveiled the more workaday single-cab version. It looks well-finished, with the same good-quality interior materials as the double-cab. And the larger load-bed has a snug-fitted loadbed-liner that will protect the floor and your residuals. This version has eco-friendly BlueMotion powertrain, offering 41mpg on the combined cycle
VW Amarok Snowplough
THE availability of a German 1-tonne pick-up, albeit one built in Argentina, has captured the imagination of the German bodybuilders at the IAA. Amarok conversions and add-ons are already available, including this smart snowplough, which might be just the job for local councils to add extra snow-clearing vehicles at reasonable cost. Amarok has excellent 4×4 abilities thanks to VW’s 4Motion system too.
SHOW debut for Volkswagen’s new Caddy – a comprehensive facelift for the compact van, including the new VW family ‘face’, making the Caddy look very Golf-like. Again, Bluemotion is to the fore, and this short-wheelbase Caddy offers exceptional fuel economy of 57.6mpg on the combined cycle. Loadspace and payload are unchanged, but engines are new, including 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels.
VW Caddy Maxi
CADDY comes in two wheelbases, as before. The long-length Caddy Maxi gets the same facelift as the standard van. Extra weight of the bigger body means fuel economy can’t quite match the SWB Caddy, but combined economy is still an excellent 55mpg. The new Caddy range is on sale next month in the UK. Prices start at £12,100 ex-VAT for the 1.6-litre 75PS TDI Caddy van while the Caddy Maxi starts at £14,050 ex-VAT for the 1.6-litre 102PS TDI engine.
VW Transporter Sportline
VICTORY in the German van of the year awards went to the new Volkswagen Transporter T5, ahead of the Mercedes-Benz Vito and the Fiat Scudo. The new Transporter went on sale earlier in the year, powered by excellent new 2.0-litre diesel engines in a variety of power outputs. At Hannover, VW showed this concept version, which gives a good idea of how the forthcoming Sportline version of the Transporter will look. Given the growing popularity of up-market vans, it looks like it’ll be a winner with the UK buyers as well as with German award judges.
COMMERCIAL vehicles helped power the German post-war “Economic Miracle”, and one of the big draws at Hannover was a hall packed with 80 classic vans, trucks and buses. Before the show closed, 63 of these vehicles set off on a 1,250 mile tour of Germany. Among the historic vans on show was this beautiful, and rare-as-hen’s teeth, 1950s Tempo Matador – a very advanced van made in Hamburg by a company called Vidal & Son. It had front-wheel drive – very unusual for the time. Early versions had a VW engine; later ones had an Austin petrol engine, and a handful were even built in the UK from 1958, by Jensen. If you’ve got one, we’d love to hear from you!