Compliance with the forthcoming Euro 5 exhaust emission regulations will require buyers of Volkswagen Crafters to top up their vehicles every so often with a substance called AdBlue. Familiar to many heavy truck operators, it’s a water-based additive with a 32.5 per cent urea content.
The additive is needed because Euro 5 Crafters are fitted with something called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR). It converts any NOx — oxides of nitrogen — in the exhaust system into nitrogen and water without producing undesirable by-products and the AdBlue helps it to do so. Stored in a 25- to 30-litre auxiliary tank, the AdBlue solution is continuously sprayed into the exhaust gases.
Volkswagen dealers and authorised repairers will refill the tank free-of-charge during the first three years of ownership from new. It will require replenishing every 10,000 to 14,000 miles. That will cost around 77p a litre at today’s prices when owners eventually have to pay for it themselves.
The shift to SCR and AdBlue is part of a whole package of changes that have been made to the vehicle. They include a modified particulate trap and new manual gearboxes with longer ratios for fifth and sixth gear. In a bid to ensure quicker ’changes the ’box has a shorter throw too.
The modified BlueTDI diesel engines offer up to 13.6 per cent more torque and VW is promising better fuel consumption. It says that the Extra Urban diesel usage figure for a 109hp engine in a Crafter CR35 3.5 tonne van has improved by over seven per cent, from 32.1mpg to 34.4mpg.
What is more, the Euro 5 BlueTDI Crafter has achieved certification as an EEV; an Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle. This means that it meets the most exacting European exhaust emission standard for commercial vehicles. Output of particulates, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen has reduced to beyond the requirements of Euro 5 and is almost half-way towards meeting the forthcoming Euro 6 standard.
Its low emissions mean that any Euro 5 Crafter registered before the end of 2010 qualifies for lower Vehicle Excise Duty for the life of the vehicle. As things stand, this will save the owner £60 a year.
Yet despite all these advantages, VW is going to face an uphill struggle convincing light commercial customers that adding AdBlue is a great idea; especially when certain rival products appear to manage perfectly well without it.