Volkswagen Crafter — March 2007

Date: Sunday, April 01, 2007

Volkswagen has at long last decided to launch a range of standard ready-to-go-to-work chassis cab conversions through its UK dealer network.

 

Based on the Crafter CR35 3.5-tonner and marketed under the 'Engineered to Go' banner the line-up consists of a dropside, a tipper and a Luton. The first two bodies are sourced from Ingimex of Telford while the last-named comes from Congleton, Cheshire-based Boalloy.

Each vehicle is covered by a three-year bumper-to-bumper warranty that embraces both the chassis and the body.

Dropside   

On offer on medium- and long-wheelbase chassis and as a long-wheelbase double cab the dropside body features a 15mm thick one-piece birch plywood floor coated with non-slip phenolic resin. Sitting on galvanised steel cross-members and bearers that run lengthways, it's mounted in a frame made out of extruded aluminium with a grey powder coated finish.

Each cross-member has a forged steel load sheeting hook at either end and there are two more at the rear of the body.

The sides and the tailboard are made from double-skinned anodised aluminium panels. A steel bulkhead topped by a removable steel mesh grille is fitted and incorporates a ladder rack plus four 125kg-capacity lashing points. They supplement recessed folding-type deck lashing rings with a capacity of 500kg apiece.

Top payload varies from around 1,100kg to approximately 1,300kg depending on the chassis and the exact specifications. Load bed length varies from 3,482mm to 4,300mm, while the width and dropside/tailboard depth are 2,026mm and 408mm respectively in all cases.

Prices go from £20,135 to £24,185. All prices quoted here exclude VAT and are shown in VW's official price list.

Tipper

Ingimex's Titan tipper body features an all-steel floor — without a vulnerable welding seam — resting on tubular steel cross-members and alloy longitudinals. Once again the sides are made from double-skinned anodised aluminium, but the tailboard is constructed from polished stainless steel.

The bulkhead is steel too. As with the dropside it's topped off by a steel mesh grille and includes a ladder gantry plus a quartet of 125kg-capacity tie-down points.

Scissor-type underfloor gear incorporating a single stage ram is used to raise and lower the body. It relies on an electro-hydraulic power pack and a klaxon sounds a warning when the body is in action.

A self-locating aluminium body prop powder-coated in yellow is provided. Never, ever venture beneath a raised tipper body without putting the safety prop in place first.

Sensibly, the main cargo lashing points — each one with a 1,000kg capacity — are mounted outside the load area. That way they don't end up being clogged by sand, gravel and all the other loose loads that tipper operators need to carry.

The tipper is marketed as a medium-wheelbase single cab and as a long-wheelbase double cab. As a consequence maximum load length is the same in both cases; 3,125mm. Width is constant too, at 2,026mm, while sidewall and tailboard height are 408mm and 500mm respectively.

Payload capacity varies from getting on for 1,000kg to around 1,200kg. Prices run from £21,260 to £24,980.

Luton

Employing self-coloured grp panels and mouldings and a one-piece grp roof, like the dropside the Luton comes with a 15mm phenolic-coated birch-ply floor. A narrow-slatted rear roller shutter door is fitted as standard and the body is designed to accept a tail lift.

Inside you'll find two rows of timber load-lashing rails 600mm and 1,200mm from the floor plus a 200mm deep kick-board at floor level.

Up for grabs on either a medium- or a long-wheelbase chassis, the Luton offers a load length of either 3,280mm or 4,030mm and a load height of 2,315mm. Load width is 1,950mm while approximate load cube is either 14.8m3 or 18.1m3. Payload capability ranges from just under, to just over, 1,000kg.

Prices extend from £21,610 to £25,760 and Crafter's standard-fit Electronic Stability Programme works perfectly well with a Luton body, says VW.

The 'Engineered to Go' initiative has the potential of adding some 1,700 sales to its annual UK volume, VW believes. Other types of conversion are set to feature in the range longer-term.

Accreditation

To complement the new line-up Volkswagen has accredited some 20 converters whom it deems capable of producing specialist non-standard conversions to the precise requirements of individual operators.

Including firms well-known for turning out minibuses and fridge vans — both Advanced Vehicles and Somers Refrigeration are included — this second programme is being promoted under the 'Engineered for You' banner. Some conversions based on Caddy and Transporter as well as on Crafter are included.

To achieve accreditation a conversion company has to be commercially viable — VW expects to see two years accounts as a minimum — and be free of any county court judgements made against it.

It has to match VW's three-year warranty, meet a recognised quality control process such as BS EN ISO 9001, use suitably qualified craftsmen, carry £10m worth of product liability insurance if vehicles such as minibuses are involved and provide comprehensive aftersales support. What is more, it has to sign a legally binding contract agreeing to these conditions and pass an inspection conducted by the Freight Transport Association.

All the foregoing also applies to bodybuilders involved in the 'Engineered to Go' scheme. The total number of businesses accredited is set to rise to nearer 30 longer-term.

VERDICT

It's been a long time coming, but VW should be applauded for the initiative it has taken. All the conversions included in both schemes look high quality to us and more than capable of standing up to a hard day's work.

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