The large van sector is helping the market stay afloat in turbulent times and is keeping pace with technology and legislation, writes Ian Shaw.
The large van sector may have fallen behind the medium segment in terms of volume but it still boasts some big hitters within its ranks, and models such as the Peugeot Boxer, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and, of course, Ford’s 2.0t Transit feature regularly in the top 10 bestsellers list.
Ford introduced its comprehensively facelifted Transit range at the IAA Commercial Vehicle show in Hannover, Germany, led by the revised 2.0t model making its global debut at the event.
The new big Transit will deliver more fuel-efficient engines, increased payload, built-in connectivity and advanced driver technologies when it launches in mid-2019, along with a smart new front-end design and an all-new interior with enhanced stowage space.
In addition to upgraded 2.0-litre Ecoblue diesel engines, new Transit customers will be able to specify a segment-first 48V mild hybrid (mHEV) powertrain on manual transmission vehicles to further improve fuel efficiency, particularly in stop-start urban driving. The mHEV system captures energy on deceleration in a 48V lithium-ion battery, and uses the stored energy to help drive the engine and electrical ancillaries.
As such vehicles and their all-electric alternatives become the norm many industry commentators have expressed concern as to the loss of payload and volume due to battery inclusions in current (no pun intended) designs. For this reason the Department for Transport (DfT) is raising the permitted gross vehicle mass (GVM) limit for standard driving licences. Until now anyone passing a car test since 1997 could drive a vehicle of 3.5t GVM, but also tow a 750kg trailer without further qualification.
These figures have been combined to allow a GVM of 4.25t, but only for alternative-fuelled light commercial vehicles, such as battery-electric, range-extended electric, plug-in hybrid, hydrogen fuel cell, and natural gas-powered vans. It only applies to driving in the UK and solely to LCVs used for hire or reward, and will not require an ‘O’ licence to be used.
Ford has also introduced a new Transit skeletal chassis cab derivative that provides a versatile, low-height platform for a wide variety of body conversions – ideal for applications ranging from general delivery and distribution to removals.
The new skeletal Transit offers a 100mm lower chassis height than the standard front-wheel drive chassis cab model, providing easier access to the load floor. A lower step height also removes the need for a separate tail lift. It is available now from Ford’s national network of 115 Transit Centres.
With a 200kg weight reduction compared to the equivalent chassis cab, the design of the skeletal chassis also provides operators with a significant payload advantage, Ford claims.
Elsewhere in the heavy van sector, the latest model from the Citroen Relay Ready to Run range joins the Crew Cab tipper. The Relay 35 L3H2 Crew Van is designed to carry a driver and up to five passengers, while offering a payload of 1,325kg. Second-row seats offer individual headrests and three-point seat belts and the sliding side doors are fitted with tinted glass. It comes with a maximum load floor length of 3,075mm.
New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 2018
MAN TGE RWD/AWD 2018
New Ford Transit 2019
Ford Transit PHEV 2019
VW e-Crafter Due in 2020