By: Tim Campbell, Managing Director, TruckWorld TV
This article was published in the November 2016 edition of NTEA News.
In the August 2016 edition of NTEA News, this column explored Beijing Motor Show which underscored the evolution of China’s key truck and van manufacturers in the last 10 years. Despite impressive progress, none of the Chinese products on display in Beijing will likely come to the United States, as companies from there are seeking major expansion in regions like Africa and Asia.
The same cannot be said for some of the products showcased at IAA Commercial Vehicles 2016 in Hannover, Germany — a nine-day event drawing 240,000-plus attendees with more than 2,000 exhibitors from 50 countries. Following are details on key exhibitors at the show, including which offerings could work in the U.S. market.
The big news at IAA was, undoubtedly, the launch of Volkswagen’s brand new heavy van — Crafter — dubbed 2017 International Van of the Year.
Up until 2016, Volkswagen built its 7,700-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) van as a joint venture with Daimler’s Sprinter, but this solo heavy van is a major departure and will form part of a greater strategic push. In addition, an electric version — eCrafter — was announced which boasts no difference in load space from the standard van.
Finally, Amarok, a Volkswagen pickup with a 7,000-pound GVWR, displayed a new 3-liter diesel engine — a large upgrade from the existing 2-liter, the standard engine since launch.
Volkswagen’s new Crafter was launched at IAA and announced as 2017 International Van of the Year.
Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus
The South American arm of Volkswagen was represented, with a heavy-duty Constellation 25/420. More than 180,000 vehicles have been sold in the last decade, making the company a market leader in Brazil.
For the first time, MAN, Volkswagen’s heavy truck brand, announced availability of a rebadged version of the new Crafter called TGE, with a GVWR spanning 6,600–12,100 pounds.
Scania, another Volkswagen company, launched its latest generation S-series truck which garnered 2017 International Truck of the Year. This vehicle, the result of a decade’s worth of development, reduces fuel consumption by an average of 5 percent, thanks to more sophisticated engine technology and state-of-the-art aerodynamic solutions. Scania is relatively unknown in the United States, mainly marketed in Europe and part of Asia.
Scania’s S-series, which was announced as 2017 International Truck of the Year.
Nissan has an excellent range of vans and light trucks, including the Navara (Frontier type) pickup and the Class 3/4 light-duty Atleon truck. At IAA, the company unveiled its NV300 van — a medium-sized vehicle with a GVWR of roughly 6,000–6,500 pounds — and a concept version of the Navara called EnGuard. Designed to operate as a life-saving rescue platform, EnGuard is packed with vital equipment suitable for emergency and disaster recovery work, including an advanced drone and a prototype portable battery pack, designed and developed by Nissan. When docked in place, the battery pack is constantly in charge mode, using power generated by the vehicle’s 2.3-liter 190PS twin-turbo diesel engine to ensure it’s ready for emergency use. Each 2-kilowatt unit utilizes seven Nissan EV battery modules inside weather-proof machined aluminium housing.
Largely unknown in the United States, Iveco is part of Fiat’s industrial group operating with CNH. Its range consists of the Daily van, Eurocargo rigid truck, Trakker multi-axle truck and Stralis Class 8 unit. The traditional rear-wheel-drive-chassis-built Daily van would make an excellent U.S. product with its automated gearbox, GVWR up to 15,000 pounds and 675 cubic feet (for a standard model).
This Astra, part of the Iveco and CNH group, is largely for off-road use.
Of course, Fiat’s European products are the basis for the Ram ProMaster® van available in the United States. In Europe, Fiat’s latest van — Talento — fits in between Doblo (ProMaster City) and Ducato (ProMaster). It may prove difficult for Talento to enter the U.S. market, as Fiat is a minor partner in a group including Renault and General Motors Europe.
Fiat brought the Ram 1500 to prepare Europe for its debut.
The interesting issue for General Motors Europe is all of its vans are produced and shared by other manufacturers. Unlike its European competitors, the company has been unable to migrate vans across the Atlantic, hence the recent NV200/Chevrolet Express combination.
At IAA, the General Motors/Opel commercial vehicle team showed competence in van/chassis and platform conversions, with an excellent range of upfitting from shelving/racking to blue light emergency services.
In the vast majority of Europe, Ford does not sell products above Transit. Therefore, most of its lineup is well known to U.S. consumers. Interestingly, Ford has chosen not to bring the Custom, its middle van, to the U.S. This van is similar to Metris, its German counterpart, in terms of dimensions and weight ratings.
This Ford van, which is not marketed in the U.S., competes with the Mercedes-Benz Metris in Europe.
Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to the U.S. Its European commercial vehicle lineup mirrors U.S. offerings, although the Transit Connect-sized small van, Citan, has not crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Citan is based on the Renault Kangoo. Daimler appears to be partnering with Renault in Europe with increasing regularity.
This Versalift aerial lift based around a Sprinter van proved popular
At IAA, hundreds of upfitters and converters are available, so selecting three or four is always difficult. Perhaps the greatest theme in Europe is the multitude of lightweight bodies for cutaways and chassis-cabs. With a commercial driver’s license starting at a 7,700-pound GVWR/GTW (gross trailer weight), Europe has high demand for these body types on products like the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. City Box from Netherlands and Eurobox from Czech Republic are two such companies. This is matched by lightweight tipper body upfitters using aluminium (including the frame) to reduce weight.
A lightweight tipper body made from aluminium is popular in Europe.
As far as racking/shelving is concerned, all the usual participants were at IAA with a large presence from Sortimo and Bott (familiar in the U.S.) and H Modul and Wurth (popular in Europe).
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