The pick-up market is the place to be seen and a pair of high-profile newcomers are poised to make their entrances. James Dallas reports
Major manufacturers have been keen to establish a presence in the pick-up sector in recent years and this trend is set to continue with a couple of high profile new arrivals on the horizon.
The appeal of the sector in the UK is illustrated by its consistently healthy sales figures – in the plate-change month of September volumes grew 19% year-on-year to 5693 units, according to the SMMT.
Fiat Professional has announced a plan to build a pick-up truck in partnership with Mitsubishi, which will be based on the Japanese brand’s next generation L200 and come to market in 2016.
UK boss Seb Fedrigo confirmed the pick-up would be launched in the UK but would aim particularly to grow volume in Africa and the Middle East.
Fiat Professional plans to increase overall global sales from 450,000 units to 600,000 between 2014 and 2018.
Mitsubishi is set to reveal the donor model for the Fiat truck, its new L200, in July. It will run alongside the outgoing model for around three months.
In the meantime, Mitsubishi has tweaked the current L200 line-up by increasing the towing capacity on the higher trim models, such as Warrior and Barbarian, by 11% to 3000kg with the maximum gross train weight going up to 5700kg. The Barbarian and Walkinshaw trims also get LED running lights. The entry-level 4Work and 4Life versions keep the 2700kg towing limit but now get Active Stability and Traction Control as standard.
The second big brand planning to enter the pick-up sector is Renault. Global CV boss Ashwanti Gupta forecasts the manufacturer will introduce a pick-up truck within five years. It is likely to be based on its partner Nissan’s Navara – although do not expect it to arrive hot on the heels of the next generation model, which is set to come to market in Europe late in 2015. Nissan says it will fashion the new version on the pick-up it introduced in Thailand in June this year but will lower emissions for Europe.
The next Navara will have new engines but will not keep the 300hp, V6 unit used in the current model. The brand promises more refinement at the top end of the line-up coupled with a broader range overall.
Light commercial vehicles are not noted for their glamour but VW has been doing its bit to change that perception with a series of special edition Amarok models made available in limited numbers.
Following on from the 350 Canyons introduced in April the brand launched the Dark Label Amarok in September with just 300 available to UK buyers.
Styling features include 18-inch black Durban alloy wheels, extended wheel arches and an underride guard below the front bumper. The Dark Label theme also extends to dark tinted rear/side windows, darkened tail lights, matt black side bars and footstep, a black rear bumper, black grained door handles and black foil on the B-pillars.
The cabin gets anthracite Alcantara upholstery and velour floor mats with Dark Label branding. VW revealed yet another special edition at the Hanover CV show in September.
The Atacama is based on the Trendline trim and set to come to the UK next year. Meanwhile, VW has extended the option of automatic transmission to its single cab pick-up.
Isuzu has expanded its D-max line-up by making the premium Yukon trim level available on the extended cab version. The extended cab features standard front seats, behind which is a load area incorporating a fold-down rear bench for occasional use.
The extended cab D-max offers a loadbed length of 1795mm, which sits between the single cab’s 2305mm and the double cab’s 1485mm.
Ton up for Truckman
Auto Styling Truckman (AST), which makes canopies for pick-up trucks, has secured an order to supply more than 100 Truckman hardtops for Ford Rangers on the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) fleet.
The 104 Classic High Roof hardtops will be deployed on double-cab Rangers at military bases across the UK.
AST has expanded its portfolio by acquiring the tooling to manufacture the Ambassador and Countryman brands of hardtop pick-up canopies. Glassfibre Technologies, which has ceased to trade, previously owned the brands.
AST said the deal would ensure the products’ continued availability and guarantee customers access to spare parts.
The Ambassador and Countryman ranges are available in cab-high and high roof versions and can be specified with roof vents, side door access, solid rear doors and roof bars.