It’s once more time for the Commercial Vehicle Show, again being held at the NEC?in Birmingham, between 9-11 April.
The show will occupy three halls and organiser Bob Sockl says the fact that the CV Show gained International accreditation following the 2012 exhibition has led to an increase in applications this year. “For us it’s a recognition of quality in the eyes of our peers,” he says.
There are, however, some notable names missing from the list of LCV manufacturers going to the show with Renault, Peugeot and Vauxhall disappointingly declining to attend and VW to be absent for the second year running. The brand has not exhibited in Birmingham since its former UK LCV boss Simon Elliott moved to take up a position in Ireland.
Sockl describes Vauxhall’s decision to miss the event as a “great shame” because the brand was one of its founders in 2000.
He expects economical and environmental themes to once more dominate.
“Everybody is looking to reduce fuel consumption,” he says, whether through alternative fuels, low friction tyres, improved lubricants or better route planning through the use of telematics software.
The Workshop will once more take up residence in Hall 4 to showcase aftermarket and diagnostic equipment and the Cool Pavilion will return to highlight refrigerated transport.

The manufacturers

Ford is to display its new family of light commercial vehicles in Birmingham as the roll-out of new models gathers pace.
On the Blue Oval’s stand will be a world debut of Ford’s forthcoming new small van, the Transit Courier, the third time in three years Ford has used the NEC to show off huge new product, following the Transit?Custom last year and the new?Ranger in 2011.
The Courier will follow production versions of the Transit Connect and two-tonne Transit to market, both of which go on sale early next year.
There will also be low-emission Econetic and range-topping Sport Van derivatives of the new one-tonne Transit Custom, both of which go on sale this month (there will be 270 Sport Vans in the first batch) , and a high roof Custom making its debut. Visitors will also be able to run the rule over the facelifted 1.5-litre, 87g/km Fiesta Van.
Transit product manager Dave Petts says the CV Show is predominantly aimed at large fleets, so does not attract many visitors from small fleets and one man bands, which he describes as an “untapped market” for the organisers. He admits that “time is an issue” for many owner/operators who could not afford to give up a day’s work to go to the show but believes targeted marketing could attract more small businesses to attend.
Citroen is to give a UK debut to its new Berlingo Electrique at the CV Show before it goes on sale in the second half of the year.
The brand is keen to talk up its heritage in the electric van sector and points out its latest electric LCV is, in fact a second generation model, following in the footsteps of the original Berlingo Electrique, which ran from 1998 to 2005.
The new version uses modern lithium-ion as opposed to its predecessor’s lead acid batteries.
The electric motor is housed under the bonnet and the battery pack positioned beneath the load deck, allowing for a payload of 636kg and load space of up to 3.7m3 – the same as a diesel-powered Berlingo.
With a battery capacity of 22.5kW, the Berlingo Electrique is expected to have a range of up to 106 miles, although this has not yet been confirmed for the UK model.
Using a domestic socket the van can be charged in eight and a half hours or it can be charged to 80% of capacity in 35 minutes with a specific 380V three-phase terminal in quick-charge mode.
The synchronous electric motor produces 49kW (67hp) and has peak torque of 200Nm.
Citroen will also launch a six-seat Dispatch HDi 125 six-speed manual L1H1 1200 Crew Van at the NEC. It has a payload of 1084kg and includes driver’s and dual passenger seat up front with a second row of three seats behind, which are accessed by twin, sliding doors. The rear seats are part of a moulded full-height, full width bulkhead. At load deck level the bulkhead has a 310mm deep by 1100mm wide aperture under the rear seats giving a floor length of 1810mm. Behind the bulkhead the load length is 1500mm.
Also on Citroen’s stand will be two new Stop & Start Relay vans. Both models employ six-speed manual transmission.
Isuzu says it will be able to display its full range of UK-specification D-max pick-ups at the NEC as well as the choice of accessories, such as bed liners, hard tops and sauna packages, which were not available at launch. The single and extended cab versions of the truck only arrived in the UK in November 2012.
Last year the brand was forced to exhibit Thai-spec  vehicles but this time around it will have three Utility group trucks – a single, extended and double cab – and three from its double cab Premium group – two Ukons and a Utah.
In contrast to Ford, Isuzu says its aim in 2013 is to extend its reach into large fleets, like leasing companies, utility groups and major building firms because, currently, 70% of sales go to retail buyers.
Other highlights will include Mini showing off its Clubvan and Mercedes giving a UK show debut to its Citan light van but there will be plenty to occupy visitors aside from the vehicle manufacturers themselves.

Systems and software

Vehicle CCTV and safety system supplier Smartwitness will showcase its black box recorder, which it claims can slash insurance costs by up to 50% and protect operators against false claims.
The system consists of a wide-angle, 170 degree lens camera mounted on the windscreen in the rear view mirror position.
The firm’s boss Nick Plowman claims: “No other on-board recording system delivers benefits that include lower insurance costs, enhanced safety, driver appraisals and cloud upload to insurance companies to allow fast resolution of claims.”
Smartwitness continuously records braking and acceleration speeds and collision G-forces and includes data about vehicle location, speed and deceleration. But the main focus is on providing clarity and speed in the resolution of insurance claims. “Within two hours of an accident operators can submit a report to the insurer that shows exact location, speed, deceleration, road conditions as well as video footage of the accident,” Plowman says. He says Smartwitness, which costs from £199 plus VAT, has been approved by Transport for London.
Transport technology provider Tranzaura is to give a UK launch to Tranzsafety in Birmingham, a smartphone-based tool to enable drivers to carry out their daily vehicle checks, with data stored centrally and instantly available to the fleet manager.
The company’s founder Mike Price says the device “allows the fleet manager to micro-manage minor defects before they become major”.
He says it is aimed at fleets of 10 to 1000 vehicles and “cuts out a mountain of paperwork” as well as providing a record for insurance companies proving maintenance checks have been carried out if the van is involved in an accident.

To the max

Lightweight bodybuilder Maxi Low will present three vehicles in Birmingham – all based on the 2.3-litre diesel, 125hp Vauxhall Movano platform cab, although the firm insists the product can fit all makes.
In addition to the Classic Luton and Walk-thru version, with a sliding bulkhead to enable easy access from cab to load bay, the stand will feature the new 26m3 body.
Manufactured from lightweight plastic, Maxi Low claims all three have a 25% lighter kerb weight than the standard models and offer 45% more loading capacity. Reversing cameras are fitted as standard and the vans now feature LED lighting in the cargo bay and a back step to ease safe entry and low-loading.
Director Ken Crouch says Maxi Low has taken an order for 200 vans from Enterprise Rent-a-Car and as of February had 330 units on order with its year one target (to September 2013) of 500 within reach. The Leicester-based firm expected to double production to 10 bodies a week before the end of March. Crouch claims Maxi Low’s payload of 1500kg will soon increase to 1600kg.
He says fuel consumption of 35mpg equates to a 15% saving compared to a production line model such as Mercedes’ Sprinter. The extra space means operators, such as roof insulators, can get jobs done with fewer vans on the road.
“You can get in enough stock to do three houses, which is not possible with a normal 3.5-tonne panel van,” says Crouch.
He adds that the larger 26m3 body will be able to capture customers from the 7.5-tonne market because the vans can be operated without drivers having to possess 0-licences.
Speaking to What Van?, Crouch anticipated Maxi Low would gain European Whole Vehicle Type Approval imminently, which would lead to Vauxhall launching the vehicles in its dealerships.

Racking up

Tevo will launch a lightweight steel racking system at the show, which is fully compatible with its current ranges. It says the structure retains the strength of previous racking while reducing weight to increase payload capacity, improve fuel consumption and cut emissions.
Other conversion specialists displaying their wares at the CV Show will include System Edstrom and Modul System.

Precious metal

One side effect of the recession has been the sharp increase in the theft of catalytic converters from vans. Criminals target the components because the gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium with which they are made can fetch up to £200 in scrap value.
However, the cost of repairs to operators could exceed £1000, according to Smartwater, which offers a forensic chemical to combat the illegal trade. The company will demonstrate its eponymous product at the NEC, which it claims is simple to apply and enables police to trace the stolen parts through a unique forensic code visible under UV light.