Van stars come out at Hanover 2012

Date: Friday, November 02, 2012

The Hanover commercial vehicle show takes place every two years, and is Europe’s leading LCV showcase. Paul Barker and James Dallas took an in-depth look around the extensive halls.
This year’s Hanover CV show was a busy one for some manufacturers, with a number of new models, new technologies or future developments making their first appearance in the public eye. Here’s what the major brands had to offer.

Fiat

The Italian firm’s Doblo XL Cargo received a public debut, although the eagle-eyed visitor to April’s CV Show in Birmingham would have spotted an early version sneakily parked by the entrance to the halls.
The XL model’s long wheelbase and high roof offer a 5.0m3 load volume and 1000kg payload, which Fiat claims is best-in-class, and the new model will be available with a choice of three engines: 105hp 1.6, 90hp 1.6 automatic and 135hp 2.0.

Ford

The Ford stand was the one containing the most news and interest of any at the 2012 Hanover event, with three new models vying for attention as Ford’s new model onslaught takes shape.
The new Transit Custom is the first new model to arrive, going on sale by the end of this year, but it was sitting next to its new big brother in the form of the full-size Transit, which arrives late next year.
The Transit has been specifically designed to look different to the Transit Custom, and has an obvious American influence to its looks, which is unsurprising as this model will also be launched into the US with Ford’s Ecoboost petrol engine to replace the brand’s E-series line-up of light commercials. Again coming in front-, rear- or four-wheel drive, the new Transit will also have a larger range of minibuses and chassis cabs as Ford seeks to expand its one-stop shop offering.
Also coming late next year is what will become the central point of the range from a size point of view: the new Transit Connect will be built in two wheelbases, and Ford is promising car-like infotainment, driving and interior quality for its new small van. “The story is to take a commercial vehicle and provide car-like amenities that van
drivers will want and appreciate,” said Ford’s European product development chief Barb Samardzich, who also explained that the new model onslaught’s timing was by design rather than coincidence. “We wanted to increase the presence of the LCV business, get into new markets and provide great products for customers,” she added.  

Iveco

The biggest van news on display from Iveco was a dual-energy concept vehicle capable of combining two power sources,
like a range-extender hybrid vehicle, but adaptable enough to vary between electric and diesel or natural gas. The firm’s patented approach has a total of six power combinations, although should it come to production the UK would best be served by combining an electric motor for urban work with a diesel engine for longer
runs to prevent the range anxiety worries attached to pure electric models.
Iveco already has a pure electric Daily, capable of up to 80 miles at a maximum 43mph, that is available as a van, chassis cab or Combi.

Mercedes-Benz

The Citan was the big news for Mercedes at the Hanover show. The new small van, based on the Renault Kangoo and on sale early next year, fills a gap below the Vito that Mercedes’ LCV boss Volker Mornhinweg said customers have been asking about, as it’s a growth segment of the van industry at the moment. The Citan is the first fruit of the partnership between Mercedes and Renault-Nissan that will eventually lead to engine collaboration and joint work on alternative fuel powertrains.
There’s a good chance that Mercedes will launch an electric Citan, admitted Mornhinweg, as the technology is already developed and in place with the Renault Kangoo ZE, although he said it will need customers to be requesting it. “The timescale is dependent on customer demands. Everyone in the business over the past few months has seen that demand for EVs is not as high as was estimated two years ago,” he said.
But the hesitance in the market isn’t stopping Mercedes from pressing on with new electric vehicle variants. It has been marketing its electric Vito e-cell van in small numbers for a couple of years now, but in Hanover it added a seven-seat crew bus variant.
The manufacturer also extended its e-cell technology at the show by unveiling a new prototype Sprinter. The firm said fleets with inner-city distribution work are interested, but it will initially be used with one or two fleet customers to see how it works for their business and to gain experience of how it is used.
Mercedes is also set to enhance its safety credentials in the van market next year by introducing new side-wind assist technology on the Sprinter. Using the vehicle’s ESP anti-skid system, the technology will correct any wind-driven vehicle wobbles by braking individual wheels to keep the vehicle straight.

Nissan

Nissan revealed the all-electric version of its NV200 light van at Hanover. Although the e-NV200 displayed was classed as a concept vehicle, the brand said it is close to the model that will go into production next year before sales start in 2014. The zero-emission van will be built alongside the conventional NV200, launched in 2010, at Nissan’s Barcelona plant.
Nissan has not confirmed how it will bring the e-NV200 to market but product strategy and planning boss Thomas Ebeling said it is likely to offer the vehicle as a complete package, whether through outright sales or leasing deals.
He claimed the e-NV200 will be “competitively priced” and “benchmarked against the competition”, in the same way as the brand’s electric passenger car, the Leaf, is pitched against the Toyota Prius.
Delivery company Fedex Express has trialled the e-NV200 in London since December 2011, with the two companies announcing a new long-term development tie-up at the show, and British Gas and Royal Mail have put the van through its paces this year.
Ebeling said the Fedex vans cover 50km (31 miles) a day and are charged up at the depot overnight. British Gas engineers tend to take the vans home for re-charging.
“The feedback we have received from drivers and operators using the vehicles as part of their everyday routine has given us vital information, which we will incorporate into the production version to ensure it meets all their needs,” said Hideto Murakami, who heads up Nissan’s Global LCV Business Unit.
The e-NV200 has a range of 140km and Nissan says a Quick Charge capability will enable operators to re-charge vans to 80% of capacity within 30 minutes, minimising downtime during working hours.
The manufacturer claimed the van can harness the energy stored in its lithium-ion battery to power electric equipment up to 6000W.
With the batteries stored under the load bay floor, which helps to lower the vehicle’s centre of gravity, Nissan says the e-NV200 retains the standard model’s payload of 720kg and load volume of 4.2m3.
Nissan showcased two other electric concepts in Hanover that are not yet set for production. The e-NT400 Cabstar is powered by the same 80kW motor as the e-NV200 while the Cabstar e-Refrigerator uses its battery and electric motor not to drive the wheels but to power its chiller and refrigerator compartments, thus reducing CO2 and noise pollution.
Also on the stand was a base-specification Navara pick-up scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of 2012. UK prices and formats are not confirmed but the truck is likely to appear in double and king-cab guises while the model on display had a price tag of €22,604, (£18,058) excluding tax. It introduces a lower-powered version of Nissan’s 2.5-litre diesel engine producing 144hp and 350Nm of torque. Official fuel consumption is 33.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 222g/km.

PSA Peugeot Citroen

PSA brands Peugeot and Citroen unveiled electric versions of their light vans at the event. But although the plug-in light commercials are identical under the skin, the brands could choose different approaches in how they take them to market.
Peugeot has ruled out leasing the battery separately to the vehicle (the strategy Renault has adopted for the Kangoo ZE) while a Citroen spokesman admitted in Hanover that the brand was still exploring this option.
Aimed at urban-based business users, Citroen and Peugeot said the Electric Berlingo and Partner Electric retain the load-carrying capacities of the current, diesel-powered ranges. They have load volumes of up to 4.1m3, but while the Electric Berlingo has a maximum payload capacity of 675kg, Peugeot claims the Partner Electric tops out at 685kg.
A two-part battery pack is installed under the flat load deck so that the cargo compartments are identical to those on the conventional vans. Both models have a battery capacity of 22.5kW, giving a range of up to 106 miles.
The vans can be charged in two ways. A normal charge of up to 16 amps takes about nine hours to completely fill the batteries while a quick-charge of up to 125 amps can recover 80% of the batteries’ capacity in 30 minutes.
The motor fitted to both, developed as part of a co-operative agreement with Mitsubishi Motors, has a power output of 67hp and maximum torque of 200Nm. Power is transmitted to the front wheels through a single-speed gear- reduction unit.
The Citroen and Peugeot models will each be available in two lengths: 4.38m and 4.63m. Peugeot said the Partner Electric will go on sale in the UK in the second quarter of 2013 while Citroen has yet to formally confirm it will introduce the Berlingo version.  
Prices have not yet been released but Peugeot said the Partner Electric will be in a similar price band to its competitors. The Renault Kangoo ZE costs £16,990 plus a monthly lease from £60 for the battery, bringing the price over three years up to £19,150.

Volkswagen

Without a major new model to launch VW used its home-town show to unveil the production version of its lifestyle pick-up, the Amarok Canyon, which is designed to appeal to outdoor sports enthusiasts when it goes on sale in the spring of 2013.
Based on the mid-range Trendline specification, the copper orange pick-up (the colour is exclusive to this model) features all-terrain wheels and a lamp bar with four extra headlamps.
Other style points include darkened rear light clusters, body-coloured under-carriage guards, black wheel arches, sill bars and rear bumper, and the name ‘Canyon’ printed on the doors and rear hatch. The load area is protected by a black roll-cover.
The Canyon is available with permanent or on-demand four-wheel drive (4Motion) and optional differential lock on the rear axle.
The special edition has 17-inch Roca alloys fitted with size 245/70 R 17 AT-tyres, although 18-inch wheels with road tyres are also offered.
Inside, the instrument panel’s sun visor is in matt chrome and the partially leather seats are two-tone. Stitching on the seats, three-spoke leather steering wheel and leather-covered gear stick echoes the copper orange of the body. In addition to the special edition orange, the Canyon will also be up for grabs in silver, grey and beige and with a hard-top load cover.
Another model not hiding
its light under a bushel on Volkswagen’s stand was the
Caddy Cross, resplendent in Viper Green and black body-kit. Showcased as a window van, VW has confirmed the model will be available in the UK as a panel van in the first half of next year.
Increased ground clearance and optional 4Motion all-wheel drive give substance to the Caddy Cross’s rugged appearance, which includes body-coloured bumpers and silver under-carriage guards.


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