That being the case, it was hardly surprising that a number of manufacturers chose the UK show as the international launchpad for their latest models. These are some of the main highlights of the show.
Citroën, along with PSA sister company Peugeot and cooperative partner Toyota, chose to take the international covers off its latest mid weight vans in Birmingham. In Citroën’s case Dispatch took the stage first, closely followed by Peugeot’s Expert and the Toyota Proace.
The trio come in three body lengths on two wheelbases, including a new compact model that should open up new markets for the firms. Available in panel van, crew van and Combi minibus layouts, the vans offer payloads of up to 1,400kg and towing capacities of 2,500kg.
On sale in time for the introduction of Euro 6 emissions levels in September, the vans are powered by a range of 1.6 and 2.0-litre BlueHDI engines offering 95-180hp, with manual, automated manual and full automatic transmissions on offer.
Peugeot has seen 20% year-on-year growth in LCVs over the last two years and the company is hoping that Expert will continue to push that rise in demand. Indeed Peugeot is hoping to sell 2,500 Expert vans in the last three months of this year, with more than 5,500 finding owners in 2017.
“We’ve got an enormous opportunity with Expert,” said Nick Crossley, head of commercial vehicles and business centre operations. We now have a van to meet every requirement.”
Peugeot is to offer a third trim level, above its current range-topping Professional line. Expert Professional Plus models will benefit from a rear parking camera, auto lights and wipers, a higher payload, alloy wheels, metallic paint and front fog lights.
Peugeot has also announced that it will enter the 1-tonne pick-up market in the coming years, as part of its Push To Pass future development initiative.
Chinese-owned LDV continued its relaunch into the UK market with the unveiling of an electric van, the EV80. Expected to be ready for launch by the end of this year, the EV80 is said to offer a 220-mile range on a single charge. Fast charging of the lithium iron phosphate battery is said to take just two hours.
Available in both short and long wheelbase van models and as a chassis cab, the EV80 has load capacities of 900-1,250kg.
“The EV80 has one of the world’s highest technical specifications for a commercial vehicle in its class,” said Mark Barrett, general manager of LDV UK and Ireland.
“With a driving range of over 300km and a battery capacity of up to 75kWh this vehicle offers a greater range and shorter charging time than any of its nearest rivals.”
LDV also took the wraps of its G10 compact van line at the show. Powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine the van will be available with both manual and automatic transmissions. Pricing and full specifications will be announced later this year.
The UK remains Renault’s second biggest van market and the French company reported that sales were up an incredible 40% in 2015, while the first quarter of this year saw registrations rise a further 21%.
As well as showing the new Trafic Sport+ on its stand, alongside a new 17-seat minibus conversion based on the Master van, LCV product manager Steve Wilson said that the company is continuing to develop its Pro+ dealer network in the UK. At present 39 of its UK dealers have achieved the Pro+ status, offering extended services to business customers in a one-stop LCV shop approach. He wants to see that number rise to 79 outlets by the end of next year.
While the new Proace van was taking centre stage on the Toyota stand, its was the company’s new Hilux pick-up that grabbed the most attention. Both Hilux and Proace will be offered with a new five-year/100,000 mile Toyota LCV warranty when they go on sale in July and September respectively.
Hilux is longer, wider and taller, while power comes from a new 2.4-litre D-4D diesel engine. Toyota will continue to offer a full range of 4×2 and 4×4 trucks, with single, extra and double cabs in four equipment grades.
The company is also set to offer Proace in three trim levels, with the full line-up of three body sizes and two wheelbases. People-carrying Verso models will be offered alongside the panel vans and crew cabs.
“We are working with our dealers to raise service skill levels throughout the network,” said LCV manager Gareth Matthews.
While visitors were expecting to see the D-Max Centurion special edition on Isuzu’s stand at the show, the real attraction was the D-Max AT35. Built in cooperation with specialist Arctic Trucks, the AT35 boasts massive 35” tyres and Fox Performance suspension.
Designed for off-road expeditions, the AT35 will be offered through Isuzu’s UK dealer network, priced from £30,995 in both extended and double cab layouts.
The D-Max Centurion, which celebrates 100 years of Isuzu production, has the same £30,995 price, but majors on luxury rather than off-road capability. With a standard automatic transmission and more than £11,000 worth of extras, there will be just 100 Centurion models built.
Iveco is another company riding the popularity wave of the 3.5-tonne van at present, with demand for its Daily range up by 56.5% last year and a further 25.2% in the first quarter of 2016. The firm chose Birmingham as the launch venue for a full range of Euro 6 engines across the Daily line. It also unveiled a new version of its Daily Electric van.
The Euro 6 line-up is based on 2.3 and 3.0-litre diesel engines, offering 120-210hp. Iveco claims fuel savings of up to 8% over previous generation vans and the Hi-Matic eight-speed automatic transmission is now available with any engine. The ZF auto box has been a big success for Iveco, with the company selling more than 10,000 Hi-Matic Dailys across Europe last year.
With new Crafter and revised Amarok not present in Birmingham, Volkswagen went all out on conversions, with a new Crafter Tipper developed in partnership with VFS taking centre stage. Using a five-stage underfloor tipping ram, the tipper body can be ordered with a cage for refuse and leaf collection.
Visitors to the Fiat Professional stand had the first chance to see the firm’s new Fullback pick-up. Based on Mitsubishi’s recently launched L200 truck, Fullback will provide Fiat with a full LCV line-up when it goes on sale later this year. The truck will be offered with 150hp and 180hp outputs, with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. Fiat will only offer the truck in 4×4 double-cab layout.
Chinese manufacturer DFSK added a second string to its compact LCV bow this year with the launch of the C Series. Available as a panel van, crew van, single or double cab dropside, the C Series models are powered by a 115hp 1.5-litre petrol engine. Visitors to the stand seemed impressed with the 2.75m load length of the dropside, which is capable of carrying 1,245kg.
While Ford’s Transit range and recently updated Ranger pick-up remain a draw for visitors, it was a new engine that was making the news for the company. The Euro 6 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel will debut in Transit and Transit Custom models later in the year, replacing the outgoing 2.2-litre TDCi.
Initially the engine will be offered at 105hp, 130hp and 170hp, though Ford said the engine can be taken to more than 200hp in the future. EcoBlue will deliver a 20% increase in torque yet manage up to 13% improved fuel efficiency.