Identical to the new Crafter from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles aside from its badges, truck maker MAN’s new TGE might, on the face of it, struggle to establish itself in a highly competitive market.
MAN head of van, Stuart Beeton, is convinced the TGE – which made its UK debut at the Commercial Vehicle Show – can score some successes, however.
The key, he believes, is the level of service that can be delivered by MAN’s truck-oriented dealer network. “We’ve got 65 service points open for 16.5 hours a day, six days a week,” he reported. So if you need your TGE’s oil changed out-of-hours, a MAN dealer should be able to handle the job.
Covered by a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, the TGE receives its network launch on 7 September. “We’ll be making it available through 17 outlets we’ll be designating as light commercial vehicle sales centres of excellence,” said Beeton.
Volume ambitions are modest: “We aim to be doing 3,000 to 3,500 a year by 2020,” said Beeton. A range of approved ready-to-go-to-work conversions will be rolled out during the first quarter of 2018 and will include tippers, Lutons and dropsides.
Beeton aims to develop used sales under MAN’s existing TopUsed brand, but was aware that its dealers are, for the most part, as inexperienced at selling second-hand vans as they are at selling new ones.
“So we’ll setting up an all-makes used van operation at Trafford Park in Manchester and going out and buying second-hand Ford Transits, Mercedes-Benz Sprinters and so on to retail so that the network can get some experience,” he said. “We should have it open by 1 June.”
Concerned by the high number of first-time MOT failures at 3.5 tonnes, Beeton would like to see vehicles in this weight category looked after to heavy-truck standards. MAN dealers are able to put together bespoke care packages that should ensure TGEs do not get the thumbs-down from testers, he said.
“They could include a safety inspection every 12 weeks, for example,” he suggested.
VW displayed an electric Crafter at last year’s Hanover CV Show in Germany. Will there be a battery-powered TGE too?
“Yes, but as yet we have no timescale for its introduction,” said MAN’s UK managing director Thomas Hemmerich.