Truck manufacturer MAN marked its appearance at the Hanover show by revealing its first light commercial vehicle – the VW Crafter-based TGE, which will go on sale in September 2017.

The model, like its donor, is available in three wheelbases, three roof heights and as a single- and double-cab chassis cab. A 2.0-litre diesel engine with outputs from 102hp to 180hp will power the van, although, also like the Crafter, an electric version will be added in 2019. The TGE comes in front-, rear- and four-wheel drive and with the choice of manual and automatic transmissions.

For MAN, the TGE means it can offer CVs ranging from 3.0 to 44-tonnes and its first priority will be to target existing customers who already run vans from different brands alongside HGVs.

“It’s positioned like an extension of the truck range,” Stuart Beeton, MAN’s head of vans, told What Van?

Beeton emphasised that MAN, unlike most LCV manufacturers that also sell passenger cars, would be able to bring a truck culture to aftersales, including providing out of hours servicing to eliminate downtime.

MAN has 67 UK dealerships, mainly sited near major roads and trading estates, and Beeton said each would house a staff member dedicated to TGE.

Andrew Taylor, MAN’s LCV project manager said a key strength would lie with the brand’s expertise in conversions accrued from its HGV operation.

He said MAN would offer a “Vans to Go” scheme for dropsides, tippers and Lutons, much like the firm’s existing “Trucks to Go” initiative.

“We have more expertise than selling bog standard panel vans,” he said.

The brand forecast FWD and AWD models would be most popular in the 3.0-4.0t weight range while RWD versions would sell mainly in the 2.5 to 5.5t bracket.

Simon Elliott, MAN’s UK managing director explained that VW had made a multi-billion Euro investment in developing its new Crafter at a new plant in Wrzesnia, Poland and needed a partner within the Volkswagen Group “to flex the volume potential.” It chose MAN because it already makes a 7.5t truck and so could make an easier leap to 3.0/3.5t than Scania, which starts at 15-tonnes.

“MAN knows what it takes to keep CV customers on the road and happy,” Elliott said.

He explained MAN would target SMEs and mid-sized businesses running a mix of vans and trucks.

“We’re not focusing on huge fleets of vans because we want to protect residual values,” Elliott said. “We don’t want half a million miles on the clock and no value.”

He predicted 50% of sales would be conversions built on chassis cabs, requiring a specialist knowledge in aftercare.

In an interesting move Elliott said MAN was looking at recruiting a used buyer to source multi-brand vans to sell on MAN forecourts in order to bring customers into the network.

“We’ve got to do things in a different way,” [to other LCV brands] said Elliott.