Sector Analysis: Heavy vans

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mercedes puts safety first with its forthcoming Sprinter, VIP keeps customers keen on its Crafter and there are new moves by manufacturers into the conversion market, James Dallas reports
While the two-tonne Transit was making high-profile static appearances on Ford stands at the Hanover commercial vehicle  show in September 2012 and the British version held at Birmingham’s NEC in April this year, Mercedes nipped in ahead of its heavyweight rival with the international launch of its revised Sprinter.
Since arriving in 1996 the Sprinter has often broken new ground in the commercial vehicle sector: it was the first van to feature ESP anti-skid control as standard in 2003 (and three years later it got the more advanced Adaptive ESP first), while it also became the first LCV to meet Euro5 emissions standard compliance. Way back in 1998 it introduced Motor Start Stop to the commercial vehicle world too.
The forthcoming Euro6 Sprinter will once more be a vehicle for new technology with the introduction of five safety assist features:?Crosswind Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Highbeam Assist (for more details see ‘First Drive’ on page 10).
Volkswagen is seeking to keep the momentum its Crafter built up last year – when sales jumped 23.5% to 4399, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – by running a finance and servicing offer on the van until the end of September. The Crafter is up for grabs with contract hire and finance lease rates of £10 less than last year at £299 a month (plus VAT and initial rental), a £1000 deposit contribution and four free services. Alternatively, if financed with lease purchase or hire purchase, a £2000 deposit contribution is available. For the first time, there are finance offers for the Crafter-based
tipper and dropside models from the Volkswagen ‘Engineered to Go’ range. These start from £299 a month, and also include four free services.
Used Crafter buyers also benefit from a low-cost service plan offer of two services for £49 or four for £199 when financing their purchase with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Get loaded

Conversion specialist Roadload has launched a new SuperDeck box body based on the 3.5-tonne Peugeot Boxer. The SD-35 is made from lightweight plastic composite panels continuously welded without the use of bolts to form a watertight body.
Roadload claims the 1500kg payload is the highest available in the UK for a Luton van box body. The van has a load volume of 32m3 and a starting price of £22,500, excluding VAT. Roadload also claimed the SD-35 achieves fuel consumption on the combined cycle of 32mpg.
The load bay floor is coated with spray-on hard-wearing Line-X non-slip flooring.
Roadload conversions are covered by 12-month parts and labour warranties and cabs come with a three-year/100,000-mile manufacturer warranty.
Citroen’s large van, the Relay, has contributed to a strong start to the year for the brand. In the first quarter sales were up more than 4% to 1077 units while in the plate-change month of March sales rose by 6.4% to 635.
Fiat Professional revealed its new Ducato Tipper at the Commercial Vehicle Show in April. Using a medium-wheelbase 3.5-tonne chassis, it is a conversion developed in conjunction with VFS.
Equipped with sides and a tailboard made from anodised aluminium, the body can be fitted to both single- and double-cab models. Maximum gross payload is 1335kg and the tipping action comes courtesy of an under-floor multi-stage hydraulic ram with chromium-plated cylinders.
Iveco displayed its new lower-CO2 version of the Daily 3.5-tonne van at the CV Show, using stop/start and a new lightweight six-speed gearbox to cut emissions and fuel consumption by up to 10% compared with the previous model. The firm has also added a new gear-shift indicator to help improve driver efficiency.

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