Despite the downsizing and re-branding of this year’s British CV Show, there are still some very good reasons for making the trip to the West Midlands as Steve Banner discovers.
With Ford, Volkswagen, Citroën, Mercedes-Benz, Iveco, Toyota and Mitsubishi all absentees, What Van?’s readers might be forgiven for thinking that a visit to the Commercial Vehicle Operator Show (NEC, Birmingham, 13-15 April) would be a waste of time. Wrong. That’s because the manufacturers who will be there will be exhibiting some of the most important new light commercials around today; vehicles that are well worth further investigation.
Fiat Professional, Fiat’s light commercial division, will be displaying its all-new Doblò Cargo as well as other models from a line-up that encompasses Grande Punto Van, Fiorino, Scudo and Ducato.
With a payload capacity of up to 1,000kg and a load cube of up to 4.2m3, the latest Doblo Cargo features a revised range of Euro 4 and Euro 5 MultiJet diesels. Punters can pick from a 90hp 1.3-litre, a 105hp 1.6-litre or a 135hp 2.0-litre. Also up for grabs is a 95hp 1.4-litre petrol engine.
Fiat’s latest offering gets new interior and exterior styling. Two wheelbases are on offer and a cleverly-designed bi-link independent rear suspension system is standard.
Not to be outdone, Renault will be displaying the all-new Master. Features include new engines, a Ford-Transit-style choice of front- or rear-wheel drive and a huge extension of the range. Buyers get to pick from over 350 variants and 40 different body options. Weights go up to 4.5 tonnes — higher than the outgoing model — while load cubes go up to an echoing 17.0m3.
Power comes courtesy of a new-generation Euro 4 and Euro 5 dCi M9T 2.3-litre diesel. It can be ordered at 100hp, 125hp or 150hp with CO2 output averaging 200g/km. A six-speed gearbox comes as standard and the two most powerful variants can be ordered with an optional semi-automatic gearbox instead.
The new long-wheelbase version of the Kangoo — the Maxi — will be at the show too and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the revised version of Trafic alongside it.
If some of the exhibits on the Vauxhall stand look vaguely familiar after you’ve visited the Renault stand, then don’t be surprised. Aside from different front grilles and badges, the new Master and the new Movano are the same vehicle thanks to a long-standing joint venture between Renault and General Motors, still Vauxhall’s parent. Trafic and Vivaro share an identity too under the same arrangement and the revised Vivaro will be present.
In a bid to get Movano off to a flying start in what remains a tough trading climate, Vauxhall will be giving away £1,400 worth of options on the vehicle under the Launch Pack banner between now and 31 July. The goodies include air conditioning, a multi-function trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity and an alarm. The only Movano not to benefit from this largesse will be the entry-level Expression. With a £20,250 (excl VAT) price tag it still gets electric windows and mirrors and a full bulkhead.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the models in the Vauxhall portfolio including the stylish Astravan, the remarkably-frugal Corsavan and the long-serving Combo.
What Van?’s Van of the Year for 2010, the NV200 will be one of the star turns on the Nissan stand. Under its bonnet you’ll find sister company Renault’s 86hp 1.5-litre dCi diesel, an engine which has also found employment in Kangoo. Despite NV200’s compact footprint, you get a 4.2m3 load area. Top payload is 783kg.
Opt for the Versatility Pack and you can extend the cargo bed to 2.8m by folding the passenger seat flat. Part of a mesh bulkhead can be swivelled through 90° and locked into position to ensure that whatever is loaded into the passenger area doesn’t end up in the driver’s lap.
Hopefully Nissan will also be exhibiting its revamped Navara pick-up, to be made available with a 231hp V6 diesel, along with the van version of its redesigned Pathfinder SUV.
Isuzu will be displaying its pick-up range while Peugeot’s line-up is likely to include a Partner equipped with Grip Control, an enhanced traction system, and a Partner five-seater Crew Van. Don’t be surprised either to see an electric Expert, a special conversion executed by Allied Vehicles. Allied is exhibiting in its own right too.
Another intriguing package set to be there is a Boxer-based U-tail conversion carried out by Roadload. The use of stub rear axles and hydraulic lifting arms allows the bodies it carries to be lowered to ground level for ease of loading and unloading.
Elsewhere at the exhibition, Tyne and Wear based Smith Electric Vehicles will be celebrating its 90th anniversary and the third birthday of the Smith Edison.
Launched at the British Commercial Vehicle Show in 2007, and back at the NEC again this year, the battery-powered Edison uses Ford’s Transit as its platform. With a range of up to 100 miles and a top speed of 50mph, it employs lithium-ion batteries that can be fast-charged from flat to full in as little as three hours. Also on display will be the Smith Newton, available at gross weights of from 7.5 to 12 tonnes.
The Edison, the Newton and the Allied Expert won’t be the only electric vehicles at the event. Niche manufacturer Aixam Mega will be extolling the virtues of the AC motor drivetrain now being fitted to its quirky-looking Mega Multitruck.
The AC motor upgrade extends the vehicle’s range by from five to 10 per cent depending on road conditions says the company and boosts acceleration times by around 10 per cent. Performance on hills is said to be better and maintenance costs are down because there are no brushes to worry about.
Smaller than the British Commercial Vehicle Show — blame the recession — and with no mainstream heavy truck makers present, the Commercial Vehicle Operator Show is heavily emphasising the presence of a large number of suppliers of ancillary equipment, parts, services and bodies.
They will include Supertrucks, with its Citroën Relay-based low-loading Space Van. With a 20.4m3 cargo area it boasts a load deck height of 550mm and an associated step height of 370mm. Specify rear air suspension, however, and you can cut those figures to 370mm and 190mm respectively when it is fully lowered.
A 3.5-tonner powered by a 120hp diesel engine, Space Van employs a custom-engineered drop-frame chassis. An extended wheelbase version is available with 22.3m3 of load space and a load deck length of 4,500mm.
Equipment suppliers will include tail-lift makers Del and Dhollandia, load area racking specialist Edstrom and TEVO, onboard weighing system expert Vishay PM and telematics specialists TomTom Work and Kinishi. Nor will Iveco fans be entirely disappointed. Dealer Guest Trucks will be exhibiting.
Anybody keen to get a tighter grip on their fuel expenditure should think about talking to BP Fuel Cards or Totalcard, while those who store bulk diesel on their premises may care to have a chat with Ledbury Welding and Engineering and J A Envirotanks among others.
The Commercial Vehicle Operator Show is owned by the CV Show LLP, made up of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Road Haulage Association and IRTE Services, the trading company of the Society of Operations Engineers.
The show is free to enter (pre-register here to speed-up entry) and will be open from 8.30am to 5.30pm daily. The NEC levies an £8.00 a day parking charge.