Electric drive and connectivity were the main features at this year’s packed Commercial Vehicle Show, says Dan Gilkes.
While Vauxhall was the first of the three PSA companies to take the wraps off a new van, unveiling the British-built Vivaro for the first time, Peugeot and Citroen were not to be outdone, surprising everyone with a duo of electric Relay and Boxer vans. Vauxhall’s fortunes have certainly taken a turn for the better under its new French parent company, with van sales up 28% year on year and new Combo sales rising by an incredible 70% so far this year. The addition of the latest Vivaro, based on the Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch, should continue that trend.
The company has invested £100m in the Luton plant, taking capacity to 100,000 vans, so Vivaro needs to succeed. It will be offered in three trim levels, with six powertrain options and on two wheelbases. The van will come with Vauxhall’s Connect Box, providing access to a range of connected services, including e-call. This will be added to Combo in 2020.
Vauxhall will also benefit from the recently updated Renault Master, which is built alongside its larger Movano model, bringing updated engines and a new look to the heavyweight van and completing a range-wide overhaul.
The company will not stop there however, with news of an electric Vivaro in 2020 and a battery electric Combo by 2021.
Arriving just in time for the show to open, Citroen’s Relay Electric and Peugeot’s Boxer Electric are converted by Turkish electric vehicle specialist BD Auto. Available with two battery options, the L1 and L2 vans will deliver up to 141 miles of range (NEDC), while the larger battery in L3 and L4 models will provide a 169-mile range.
The vans are currently undergoing homologation, with no launch date announced. However, PSA has said that it will launch electric Expert and Dispatch models in 2020 and will update the existing Partner Electric and Berlingo Electric in 2021. The electric vans will come with an eight-year battery warranty.
For those more interested in diesel power, Relay and Boxer get a new 2.2-litre engine, offering 120bhp and 140bhp in panel vans and 165bhp in chassis cab. Relay and Boxer, along with the mid-weight Expert and Dispatch, will also move to the four trim level line-up that has already been launched on Berlingo and Partner, including Worker and Grip models. Berlingo and Partner also now come with PSA’s connection box, providing access to a range of telematic and connectivity solutions. Dispatch and Expert will get the connectivity box in the summer.
Ford will launch a 185bhp version of its 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine in both full size Transit and Transit Custom, while the larger rear-wheel drive model will also be available with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
There are bigger changes in store for Transit however, with the option of a 48V mild hybrid driveline that can deliver up to an 8% fuel improvement in stop/start travel, cutting CO2 emissions to 144g/km.
Ford has been cutting weight on Transit, with an aluminium bonnet, a composite bulkhead and spin-formed wheels, to deliver an additional 80kg of payload in some models. The company is also incorporating a range of connectivity features, through the FordPass Connect on-board modem that is now standard on many Transit models.
Those looking for approved conversions will welcome the news that Ford’s Qualified Vehicle Modifier programme now includes more than 35 bodybuilders and specialist converters. The latest additions include Bespoke Bodies, Alfred becker API, Ingimex, Clark Vehicle Conversions and Truckcraft Bodies among others.
Toyota is building on the successful launch of the mid-weight Proace van, with the introduction in 2020 of the smaller Proace City. Based on the PSA Berlingo/Partner/Combo van, Proace City will come in two body lengths and two trim grades. Though displayed at the show, it is thought that Toyota UK will not bring in people-carrying car versions of the van.
There have been changes elsewhere in the LCV line-up, with Hilux getting a cosmetic update in Invincible X form and additional equipment in lower grades. This includes standard Toyota Safety Sense equipment in lower trim models and the availability of vinyl seating in Active grade single and extra cab models, to meet customer demand.
Also meeting buyer requests, Toyota will offer a higher Active trim level in the Land Cruiser Commercial models. Originally conceived in a back to basics trim, there will now be a second level with an automatic transmission, satnav, 17-inch alloys, dual zone air conditioning and a rear camera and parking sensors.
Likewise, in Q4 Toyota will introduce a third trim level for Proace. The range-topping Proace Design will come with alloy wheels, a 7” ProTouch navigation system, Toyota Safety Sense and front and rear parking sensors.
LDV will add a second model to its electric van line-up in 2020, with the launch of the EV30. Available with two battery options, the electric-only van offers up to 200 miles of range with the 53kWh battery, or 127 miles using a 35kWh battery. The company is claiming a rapid charge time of just 45 minutes, with a full AC charge of five hours.
The EV30 has a 5m3 load capacity in standard form, rising to 6.3m3 in the longer wheelbase model. Thanks to an aluminium monocoque construction, the van boasts a full 1-tonne carrying capacity. Importer Harris Automotive will provide full details nearer the January launch, but said that prices will start from just £22,000.
LDV has also updated the V80 and EV80 vans, with a revised front end, improved interior design and the adoption of a Euro 6b diesel engine. The vans incorporate a 10” touchscreen with standard reversing camera and Apple and Android compatibility. The electric EV80 is proving a popular choice, with dairy delivery business Milk&More ordering more than 150 of the electric vans.
Volkswagen will finally bring electric vans to these shores later this year, though we will have to wait until 2021 for the largest e-Crafter model. The e-Caddy will arrive first, later this year, followed by e-Transporter in 2020. Converted by partner company ABT, the e-Caddy will come in Maxi form only, boasting a 4.2m3 capacity and a 636kg payload. The NEDC range is said to be 136 miles, from a 37.3kWh battery pack.
The larger e-Transporter will also be offered with the 37.3kWh pack, offering a 129-mile range, or with a 74.6kWh battery delivering up to 250 miles. Payload range from 1,186kg for the single battery model to 695kg for the long-distance e-Transporter.
Isuzu continues to add to its D-Max pickup range, with the launch of the D-Max SAFIR, from Arctic Trucks and the even more extreme D-Max XTR. The XTR will sit between the standard Blade model and the Arctic Truck-modified pickups. It boasts a suspension upgrade, with an aggressive body kit and styling, amongst a host of specification upgrades.
Of more interest to business users, Isuzu is winning in the fleet arena. The company has announced a deal with energy supplier SSE for 215 D-Max trucks, in a mix of single, extended and double-cab layouts. The vehicles have been factory-painted in SSE’s Sapphire Blue livery and come with dedicated rear bodies and all-terrain tyres.
Isuzu has also won business from the RAC. Working together with Strongs Plastic Products, Isuzu and RAC have developed a breakdown patrol vehicle that can carry the All-Wheels-Up recovery system. This allows the trucks to haul stranded vehicles up to 2.8-tonnes in weight, covering 90% of today’s passenger cars. The first 50 RAC Heavy Duty patrol vans will be deployed across the UK.
MAN Truck & Bus has added to its TGE van and chassis cab line with the launch of a Flatframe Chassis Cowl. Built specifically for conversions, the front-wheel drive chassis cowl sits 190mm lower than a standard TGE chassis cab, for high volume Luton and box body conversions. With no back to the cab, the chassis cowl can be easily integrated into bespoke bodies, such as motorhomes.
MAN has also added a 17-seat minibus to its ready-built range of TGE conversions. Built by Minibus Options, the 5-tonne TGE 5.180 can be configured to carry the driver plus 16 seated passengers, 14 seated passengers and a wheelchair user or 10 passengers and two wheelchairs.
Turkish electric vehicle specialist BD Auto was not only present on the PSA group stand, where its Citroen Relay Electric and Peugeot Boxer Electric conversions were unveiled. The company also had its own BD Ducato conversion on the Paneltex stand, where the electric van had been converted for refrigerated goods use.
BD Auto was formed in 2009, but has been developing electric driveline products since the late 90s. The company started providing van powertrains in Europe in 2015, to TNT and DHL in the Netherlands. It then moved into the UK in 2016 and to France in 2017. The deal to convert PSA Groupe vehicles will see a big expansion in BD Auto’s activities, particularly in the UK. It currently has a UK base near London providing sales and service to customers including Ocado and Sainsburys.
The company can supply electric vans at 3.5, 4.0 and 4.25-tonnes gross weight and with a choice of single or double battery packs. It also provides long-term rental of electric vans, to supermarkets and other customers, from its London base. Conversions are not limited to the Sevel product (Fiat and PSA), though most other manufacturers now have their own electric van supplies.
Mitsubishi took the wraps off a Shogun Sport SVP concept at the show, boasting the usual combination of larger wheels and tyres and upgraded suspension. Of more interest however was a standard Shogun Sport in a Police livery, showing that the company has been able to maintain its links with the emergency services since the dropping of the previous Shogun and Shogun Commercial last year.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has produced a report that demonstrates that one in 10 UK workers uses or depends on a van for their work, a total of 3.4m people. The report – Light Commercial Vehicles: Delivering For The Economy – states that vans contribute £56bn to the UK economy from wages alone, which is 11% of UK GDP.
Figures show that there are now 4.4m vans on UK roads, along with 605,000 trucks, delivering 200,000t of goods every hour.
“The UK’s van fleet is the backbone of our society, driving our economy and allowing millions of workers to carry out jobs that our country relies on,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.
“To continue to thrive, this vital sector needs policies and incentives that encourage businesses to invest in the latest technology, that best suits their needs to help them deliver for Britain.”