Van launches from established market players are common enough but it is rare to see a new manufacturer enter the market. But that is what has happened with MAN and its debut LCV, the TGE.
The TGE marks the first time bus and truck maker MAN has entered the light commercial sector, but while it is the new kid on the block, it isn’t entirely taking a stab in the dark, due to the links with parent company Volkswagen, which produces the Crafter.
Both vans are produced in Volkswagen’s huge new production facility in Poland, the TGE coming to market as an almost identical but restyled version of the Crafter. But with MAN badges on it, could the TGE struggle to establish itself in an already highly competitive market and against a manufacturer with a far bigger name?
The range will be available in front-wheel drive, as well as rear- and all-wheel drive models, and all will be offered with manual or automatic transmissions.
Stuart Beeton, head of van at MAN, told What Van? the product will provide some key differences to its Crafter rival.
“Priced from £23,990, the agreement is that where the vehicles’ specification is aligned to the Crafter, the price list is also aligned, within a 5% tolerance. The Crafter also has three spec levels, and the TGE has one. It comes as a base specification and the customer can add on whatever they want to personalise it to their needs,” he explained.
As well as the Crafter, Beeton admitted that Iveco will be a rival to the range in so much as both brands have similar HGV structures and strategies.
As for the target market for the TGE, Beeton said that this is “people who want to run LCVs with the same standards that are applied to HGVs, so people for whom aftersales is a factor, for instance… safety, compliance and aftersales”.
With this predicted target market comes predicted sales, and Beeton says the manufacturer is looking to hit 3,000 to 3,500 units a year by 2020.
We were offered an opportunity to drive the entire TGE range, which we took to the track of Rockingham Raceway Corby, a great location to test the manufacturer’s first attempt at a van and gauge its potential for success.
Here, we decided to review the 3.0t 140hp manual panel van with front-wheel drive, which MAN expects to be the bestseller of the range.
One of the most important factors in the TGE’s potential success is what it is like to drive and spend long working hours in, and the 140hp six-speed manual van we tested was not short of practical features and creature comforts designed to take the strain out of the driver’s day.
Power for the new LCV family member comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with four power outputs. Gross weights range from 3.0 to 5.5 tonnes, and the TGE is produced in van, chassis cab and chassis double-cab guises.
A smooth, slick gear change helped us make progress quickly, and the van handled well, zipping around the track and not showing the least inclination to break away, with the steering tightening up nicely at speed.
The steering, handling and ride of the vehicle has been really thought through and the vehicle overall was an absolute pleasure to drive.