AUSTRALIA’S GUIDE TO UTES, VANS, LIGHT TRUCKS & PEOPLE MOVERS
www.deliverymagazine.com.au ISSUE 33 DEC/JAN 2010 - 2011 RRP: $7.95
NEW Mazda’s BT-50
Delivery Magazine is an AFMA Strategic Alliance Partner
INSIDE V Ford’s Ranger
Navara ST-X V Triton GLX-R Isuzu D-Max Upgrade Holden SSV V8 Renault Trafic Ssangyong Actyon VW Transporter Crew Cab AWD Isuzu N-Series goes Euro V
Is Ethanol the answer? PLUS Staying Safe off road
Treading Lightly Toyo Australia has launched the Eco Walker, a new standard performance tyre that improves fuel economy and helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions that lead to global warming. The weight of the Eco Walker is 13% less than the current TEO plus and requires less energy to move or stop the tyre, which will potentially result in less fuel consumption. On the sidewall you will find the new ‘ECO’ logo, which is applied to new products which meet JATMA’s requirements for fuel efficiency. Also, the tread compound and design of the Eco Walker resulted in the rolling resistance being reduced by 20% compared with the current TEO plus product . The ECO walker will be available in 215/55R17, 205/55R16, 215/60R16, 205/60R16, 195/65R15 and 175/65R14 sizes from Tyrepower stores, selected Toyo independent and Team Toyo independent stores.
People Moving Citroen’s C4 Picasso, Australia’s most economical seven seat people mover, is now priced at $39,990 driveaway, a saving of more than $6000. Based on the award winning Citroën C4, the C4 Picasso 100kW diesel with six-speed EGS transmission returns economy figures of 5.0 l/100 km with CO2 emissions of 153 g/km. With its five stars ANCAP rating the C4 Picasso also has ABS brakes with EBA and EBD, ESP and traction control. The rearmost row of seats fold flat into the floor, the middle row fold forward and both rear seat rows can slide fore and aft for added flexibility.
It’s four million for Fiat The Sevel factory in Italy, a joint venture between Fiat and PSA-Citroen, has built its four millionth vehicle, a Fiat Ducato Maxi with 13 cubic metres of space and a total gross weight of 3.5 tonnes, equipped with a 3.0 Multijet Power engine with the MTA automatic transmission. Fitted out with ESP, Cruise Control, bi-link rear suspension system, rear doors opening 270°, automatic climate control and radio with CD player, the vehicle was purchased by a German customer who took delivery during the IAA Motor Show in Hannover, Germany.
December / January 2010 - 2011
New Light Truck Tyres from Michelin MICHELIN has launched the new AGILIS LT tyre specifically for the minibus and light truck market in sizes of 7.00R16, 7.50R16 and 8.25R16 in July 2010. The new MICHELIN AGILIS LT gives light truck and mini-bus drivers an experience of a long life in on-road operations developed by the MICHELIN Durable Technology, with full depth double–wave sipes for even long lasting grip and handling. The existing MICHELIN AGILIS, designed for pick-up and vans, provides its users with high mileage and comfort.
Power Surge Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and PSA Peugeot Citroën have signed an agreement to start the technical development of an electric version of Peugeot Partner and Citroën Berlingo LCVs built at the PSA Vigo plant in Spain. Under this new cooperative agreement, both partners will specify all technical and industrial aspects to be able to commence production of these electric versions by the end of 2012.
Vans go electric Navistar, Inc.’s eStar™ all-electric truck is the first commercial vehicle designed from the ground up to be battery-powered. Its lithium-ion battery system allows the eStar truck to travel up to 100 miles per charge and virtually eliminates traditional maintenance costs. The eStar can be fully recharged in about 6-8 hours or the quick-change cassette-type battery can be swapped out in less than 20 minutes, enabling around-the-clock operation.
Safety Space Milford’s all new MXV70™ Cargo Barrier delivers a certified Cargo Barrier rating in a 20g impact test to a new, industry setting standard of 70kg. DELIVERY
Tradies’ Delight CAN VOLKSWAGEN’S TRANSPORTER REPLACE THE COMMON JAPANESE-STYLED UTE
ot so long ago the decision to choose between utes of Japanese or European origin was pretty clear cut, largely because Europe didn’t produce anything suitable within a bulls roar of the pricing of the Japanese alternative.
Sure, there are Japanese-styled utes manufactured in Europe as evidenced by some Navara models being produced by Nissan in Spain. But, in general terms, when a tradie went looking for a ute they ended up with Mazda, Ford, Nissan, Toyota or Isuzu, all controlled by the Japanese, even if manufactured for our market in Thailand. Tradies who don’t buy SS Commodore or XR8 Falcon twowheel drive utes tend to go for the belt and braces approach of decision making, which keeps them safe from getting bogged on a building site. Consequently, they choose a 4WD version of whichever model they select.
Manufacturers and importers have reacted to the popularity of all-wheel-drive utes by optioning up the specification levels until some resemble what would have been considered as a luxury car interior just a few years ago. Leather trim, sophisticated audio systems, a strong, goanywhere stance and bright colours have all added to the appeal. But one thing remains pretty much unchanged. They all share similar interior dimensions, and they are all a bit squeezy if you are looking for space. Similarly, the tray never seems to be quite big enough, or the payload quite high enough, to make it absolutely ideal for the job it has to do. That is, until VW brought the Transporter Crew Cab with 4Motion all-wheel-drive to the Australian market. We’ve already evaluated the 2WD version of the Transporter T5, but after some cajoling, on our part, with Volkswagen Group Australia’s commercial vehicle division, the company fronted up with a brand new T5 Crew Cab, complete with the all-wheel-drive transmission that it calls 4Motion. Working on the principle that most Tradies don’t want to climb the highest mountain or ford the deepest rivers on their way to work. We believe that buyers are quite content if their
ute will cross a steep slope on a wet grassy paddock, or, at the very worst, clamber out of a muddy bog that will suck in a standard 2WD vehicle until a passing backhoe comes to the rescue. Driving in 2WD with the 4Motion means power goes to the front wheels, as with all Transporters. When the electronic control systems detect wheel slip or loss of traction, the 4Motion system apportions drive to the rear wheels as well, then selectively sending drive to whichever wheel has traction, and controlling slip on those that don’t. There are no levers or buttons to press, the system just does what it is supposed to do, basically digging itself out of the hole that you put it in. Delivery put the 4Motion Crew Cab through its paces on wet grass, light mud and steep inclines and declines. What we found is that the T5 combination is basically unstoppable. It does lack an ultra-low ratio first gear, and there are some circumstances where the driver is going to have to slip the clutch to get the required amount of power through. But, in the majority of situations, the T5 with all-wheel-drive just went wherever we wanted it to go. There’s going to be an obvious comparison between the Transporter and the Amarok, which makes its appearance on the Australian market round about April of 2011. As Amarok compares more directly to other traditionally Japanese-sized utes, what we have to do is to recognise the unique strengths of the Transporter, and here it’s all about size and space. There is no comparison between a typical ute and the Transporter Crew Cab when it comes to interior space. The lift up rear seat affords storage for chain saws, coats, boots and tools, keeping them all out of sight of prying eyes. The rear seat can accommodate three burly blokes, and, with bucket seats in the front, there’s plenty of available space for big people with space remaining between the front seats. There’s also plenty of additional storage space in the door pockets, and there are the now mandatory cup holders for the front seat passengers. With a GVM of 3000 kg, the Crew Cab tray will take a payload of 1,093 kg with the six-speed manual transmission, dropping by 15 kg if you choose the DSG automated manual gearbox. With a custom-built tray, you can run to dimensions of 2,212 mm in length and match the overall body width at 1,904 mm, or go a little wider and make use of the extended length wing mirrors. The rear chassis rails are 1,000 mm apart, which leaves plenty of space to include a roll-out Trundle Tray, as produced by bodybuilders such as TipTop. There’s also space for side lockers, under the tray, if you are looking for all available stowage space.
Gaseou Mass FEATURE
For Ho is a ke enviro
olden, ethanol ey to future onmental gains
ast your minds back just a couple of years to when John Howard was in Government and ethanol started to make its appearance as an alternative fuel, or, to be more precise, an addition to fuel. The media pack howled that it would damage your car, kill your chickens and render your bulls impotent, also espousing that its production would be at the expense of food crops. Signs appeared at petrol stations proudly proclaiming “ethanol-free fuel” and motorists shunned the very idea of contaminating their petrol with a bi-product of sugar-cane industry waste material. Today the ethanol debate is very different. In place of ridiculing its use to propel petrol-engined cars, Holden and Caltex are actively promoting a blended fuel where 85 percent of the fuel is ethanol, leaving just 15 percent for standard unleaded petrol. Whether or not you have noticed, many of the fuel bowsers already display that an E10 blend (10 percent ethanol and 90 percent petrol) is being pumped through your local petrol station. New cars also advise E10 suitability on the inside of the fuel filler cap, and nobody seems to be particularly concerned any more about using the “E” word. Holden is a great believer in ethanol as a fuel base. It’s quick to point out that using E85 brings with it a reduction in exhaust emissions by 40 percent, immediately improving the environment. So, on that basis, perhaps we should all be using an E85 blend rather than being wimps and filling up with E10. Well, there is a disadvantage. If your car is engineered to run on E85, it will be able also to run on any permutation of the blend with petrol right down to where there is no ethanol and your fuel is pure petrol. The problem comes when you try to do the opposite. Unless your car is designed to run on E85, it won’t, leaving you continuing to pollute, albeit perhaps in self-righteous indignation. The other, ever so slight disadvantage to using E85, is that there are only currently ten bowsers in the country that flog the stuff, and they are all owned by Caltex, where the E85 fuel is branded under the Bio E-Flex fuel name. It’s fair to say that Holden is the first Australian carmaker to fully embrace the alternative of Bio E-Flex, and is busy engineering its Commodore range to happily run on the stuff. If you can’t find E85 then the newly engineered Commodores will run on the standard fuel available at your nearest fuel stop. For the close of 2010 there will be 31 Bio E-Flex bowsers in Australia, increasing to 100 by the end of 2011. So, what are the benefits to using E85, other than the previously mentioned environmental gains? It starts with pricing. E85 should be available at a price reduction of around 20 cents per litre, so you save money. Each litre of E85 produces up to nine percent more torque than when running on pure petrol, so you get better performance. All good so far. Unfortunately, the E85 engine uses more E85 than it would when running on petrol, so you reduce your vehicle range, on a tank full, by anything up to 30 percent. So, now it’s not looking quite such a clear cut advantage. Engines that are capable of running on E85 fuel will also run on lower percentages of ethanol or pure petrol. DELIVERY
ifty years ago, when Britain still had a thriving car industry, the various brands of Austin, Morris, MG, Wolseley and Riley indulged in something called “badge engineering”. By producing models based on a common architecture, but branded with a different identity, the cost of vehicle development was reduced substantially.
While today’s auto industry prefers to use the term, “global technology sharing”, the principle remains the same. Companies share their experiences and technology across common platforms as evidenced by Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda, with Mazda and Ford doing likewise amongst the current players in the industry. Styling, design, first impressions and lasting memories all result from the personal preferences of the onlooker. In one comparison, they share technology, drivelines, development and support, but in other areas, such as image and presence, they remain poles apart. The trick for future success and profitability is to maintain the difference, and to find unique buyers in markets
SMOKE AND MIRRORS where the combined sales of the two products don’t impinge on each other’s success, but do impact on the success of their rival competitors. The new platform for the BT-50 and Ford Ranger was jointly developed by Ford and Mazda. Mazda provided platform chassis architecture and Ford led design and vehicle engineering for both brands. Interestingly, in the application of global operations, Ford took advantage of its full-line design and product development resources, based at its product development and proving ground facilities in Melbourne and Geelong, to lead the global effort to create the next-generation Ranger and BT-50. In fact, the new global ute development project has been the largest automotive design and engineering export project ever undertaken in Australia, attracting support by both the Australian Commonwealth and Victorian State governments. Using the term of “One Ford”, rather than admitting to badge engineering, has resulted in Ford investing nearly US$3-billion since 2006 to transform its manufacturing facilities, across the Asia Pacific and Africa region, from low-volume local production to high-volume regional production. Ford is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy, especially in growing markets like India and China, and employs more than 25,000 people across the region. Talking to Delivery magazine in Sydney, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa President, Joe Hinrichs, said, “We are in a position to expand production in a way that wasn’t possible in the past. Volume assembly of the all-new pickup is slated to begin in 2011 at the AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT) plant in Rayong, where Ford and Mazda recently announced a US$350-million investment to upgrade the facility. This facility will produce vehicles for Thailand and markets in the Asia Pacific region.
“Ford is investing US$412-million to increase capacity at its South African operations to build the Ranger and the Puma diesel engine, along with additional investments to boost the capacity and expertise of Tier 1 suppliers. Other major investments to grow Ford’s volume production capacity across the broad Asia Pacific and Africa region have included new manufacturing plants in China and Thailand, plus a doubling of capacity at its Chennai, India, plant. “South Africa will produce Ranger for the home market and Europe, including Russia and Turkey, as well as emerging markets in Africa and beyond. Argentina eventually will begin producing the all-new Ranger for South America, another key region for compact pickups,” added Mr. Hinrichs. Whether you are a fan of Ford, or prefer the more subtle nuances of Mazda design, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Sydney International Motor Show was the chosen venue for a global release of siblings from both companies. And with our attention firmly focused on these latest products, we need to pause for a moment to look at marketing spin versus reality, and compare the features and benefits of the all-new Mazda BT-50 and the Ford Ranger. If you believe the marketing teams from each company, there’s a world of difference between both products, and, with a cursory glance showing a difference in styling cues, the average onlooker could be fooled into thinking that only the timing of the reveal happens to be common. However, increasing familiarity with both products soon reveals the similarities of the overall designs, given the need to maintain identical key design points, to ensure overall efficiencies in terms of development costs.
SPIRIT OF THAILAND suzu Ute rivals Toyota in the Thai market as the overall leader in sales, and this has led to an enthusiasm amongst the Thai team, to achieve better performance for its products, than we are used to seeing from the Japanese parents.
When your product range is restricted basically to one vehicle, such as the Isuzu D-MAX, you’ve got to be very sure that you get the product right, from a universal appeal point of view, and also from a practical, solid and reliable reputation. As Delivery Magazine’s Ute of the Year for 2010, the D-MAX won its award in the face of tough competition, but it won for a combination of reasons that required it to step up to the plate, not just for looks and standard features but also for the way it performs its function in life, that of being a tough, versatile workhorse. Towards the end of next year the company will take the wraps off the replacement for the D-MAX, bringing a totally new look vehicle onto the global stage. Although details are very sketchy at present, we believe the basic chassis and suspension will remain largely unchanged but that, cosmetically, the body will be totally redesigned. Keeping up the excitement in the present model has resulted in Isuzu Ute Australia arranging rather a special Limited Edition version of the current D-MAX, which includes all sorts of goodies, previously unavailable in this market. To celebrate its first two years on sale in Australia, the company has released the high-spec Limited Edition II 4x4 Crew Cab Ute. Like last year’s D-MAX ‘Pearler’, this year’s ‘LE II’ is a real limited edition, at just 180 units. Two new and exclusive pearlescent mica exterior colours are offered, 140 models in Lunar White and 40 models in Solar Bronze. Based on the best-equipped and most popular D-MAX, the LS-U 4x4 crew cab ute, LE II comes equipped with around $9,000 retail value worth of unique features and accessories, for only around $5,000 over LS-U typical pricing. It retains the highly impressive 3.0-litre, fourcylinder diesel and matches the Limited Edition drivetrain with both automatic and manual transmissions. Torque output is 360 Nm, with the manual gearbox, from 1,800-2,600 rpm and 333 Nm, with the automatic transmission, from 1,600-3,200 rpm, while maximum power output is identical in both models at 120 kW produced at 3,600 rpm. In all the comparative testing of different utes we’ve completed at Delivery Magazine, the Isuzu comes out on top for fuel economy.
Given that all models share the same engine and driveline, the 4x2 offers a combined economy figure of 7.9 l/100 km (manual transmission) and this rises to 8.4 l/100 km for the 4x4 model. For the extra urban figure you can expect to see consumption drop further to a best level of 6.5 l/100 km. The exhaust emissions combined figure runs from a C02 content of 208 g/km. LE II’s premium unique feature is its Kenwood touch-screen hi-fi head unit with Garmin® SatNav, reversing camera view, DVD, USB and iPod® /iPhone® and Bluetooth® connectivity, as well as CD/FM/ AM audio with AAC/MP3/WMA compatibility, played through LE II’s six speakers. The unit integrates a DFS (Detachable Face Security) and includes remote control. LE II’s exclusive exterior colours extend to its special styled side steps, which also integrate polished aluminium step inserts with rubber grip stipples. Approximately half of the LE IIs will feature silverstitched Charcoal Italian leather trim on seats, door trim inserts and the centre console padded elbow rest. The leather front backrests will be monogrammed. Also inside, there’s branded polished aluminum doorsill scuff plates and custom carpet mats—the front pair monogrammed. Other exterior LE II features include a lockable hard tonneau and chrome nudge and sports bars, bonnet protector, fog light recess bezels and taillight guards, plus you get to show off to the neighbours with ‘Limited Edition II’ badging on the tub rear flanks and an ‘LE II’ graphic integrated into custom striping on the lower doors. All LE IIs come with standard air-conditioning, ABS with EBD, dual airbags, fold-in power door mirrors with turn indicators, cruise control, projector headlights, remote entry, electric windows with one-touch driver’s glass up and down, dual-bin padded centre console, electro-luminescent instrument display, rear Limited Slip Differential, lockable tailgate, rubber tub floor mat, chrome rear step bumper and alloy wheels, including the spare. Only available as a 4x4 model, the LE II is rated for maximum laden weight towing, with a braked trailer, of three-tonnes. You also get high-ride suspension, 225 mm ground clearance despite underslung rear springs and consequently lower loading height, an ultra-low, low-range crawler first gear with anti-stall, steel plate sump and transfer case guards, fuel tank shield, wide track 16”x7” wheels with 245/70R16 LT tyres, wheel arch flares, plus push-button dash controls for 2WD/4WD/ low range selection and shift-on-the-fly, up to 100 km/h, between 2WD and 4WD High. Payload including occupants and all the additions is just over the 1,000 kg mark. Considering the really high level of interior trim and accessories, the pricing comes in at a very competitive level. Starting from $47,300 for the manual LE II with cloth trim, an automatic transmission adds a further $2,000. Those wanting the full Monty, of seats covered in Italian leather, will be paying $49,700 for the manual version, and again a further $2,000 for the automatic option.
French Chic It s got all the style, but does it have the substance? Renault Trafic on test
rance and Italy might prefer not to have too much in common, but, when it comes to style, they lead the European pack by a country mile.
Whether it’s Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen or, in this case, Renault, the styling, design and appeal that comes with Gallic or Italian heritage has been the root benefit to car manufacturers since the earliest days of motoring. For some customers, it’s undoubtedly hard to get excited about buying a van. After all, most just want a large cargo volume that carries loads easily and reliably from A to B. It
helps if it’s comfortable, and there’s a definite advantage if there are no blind spots when it comes to vision fore and aft, and to the sides. So, what else is there to consider? Let’s start with appearance. Renault’s Trafic is a midsized panel van that is undoubtedly the most distinctive in appearance of all the contenders in this segment. With its teardrop headlamps, exaggerated styling swoop over the front doors and into the front bonnet-line, it’s arguably the best looking van on the market. The low roof means it has easy access into even the lowest roofed underground car park, and with a glazed sliding side door on the passenger side as standard, there’s no suggestion the driver is not going to have full vision every time they pull out of a side road and turn right.
wheelbase of 3,098 mm being extended to 3,498 mm. This provides a choice of floor length in the cargo area of 2,400 mm and 2,800 mm respectively. With McPherson struts and coil springs, the front suspension is supple and doesn’t give any harshness or vibration through to the driver. Coil springs at the rear are also a welcome change from the standard semi-elliptical leaf springs so often used on vans of all sizes. The ride comfort of the Trafic ranks this van as one of the most comfortable on the market, and with front wheel drive the handling also rates very highly. With the exception of the Volkswagen Transporter T5, all the competition in this segment runs with rear wheel drive. When size matters, there’s a choice of two different Trafic versions. The overall length options are 4,872 mm and 5,182 mm, and the additional length comes in the form of a longer
The overall exterior width is the same, at 2,232 mm (between mirror tips), with 1,207 mm between wheel arches, and step height at the rear it’s just over 500 mm while the height through the side sliding door is similar at 480 mm. The rear cargo space floor to roof door opening is 1,305 mm with a width of 1,400 mm, and the overall roof height from ground level is 1,936 mm. Dimensions such as front and rear overhang are almost identical at 833 mm (front) and 851 mm (rear). The sliding side door entry width is 1,000 mm. Both versions carry a similar payload, in this case around 1,230 kg, and both are rated to tow a braked trailer of up to 2,000 kg laden weight. The total cargo volumes are rated at five cubic metres and six cubic metres respectively. DELIVERY ISSUE 33 63
H A S T H E V 8 U T E D O N E I T S D A S H ? W E L O O K AT T H E R E A L I T Y O F E X C E S S
Ah, so we’ve got a fancy pants ute”, said the girl in the local farm supplies centre as she hoisted four bales of hay and two 25 kilo bags of lucerne chaff into the back of the SS-V Ute. I am not sure whether she was outstandingly impressed with the latest iridescent green, V8 powered, rural rocket or whether she thought it wasn’t a practical alternative to a traditional tray back off the farm. But either way, it seemed a pretty good summing up at the time. There was a time when I would have thought I had really made the grade by steering a V8, complete with eightcylinder exhaust burble, down the main street of the local town as you complete the grand parade doing laps past the pub. Perhaps it’s the increase in age, or perhaps it’s the result of the onslaught of publicity surrounding global warming and the quest for a brave new eco-friendly world, but, somewhere along the way, the V8 ute seems to have lost its appeal.
When you run on Bio E-Flex Fuel you can cut your emissions levels down by 40 percent, perhaps ever so slightly justifying your indulgence. You also get to pay perhaps 20 percent less, in cost per litre, than pure petrol, while benefitting from more power thanks to the increased ethanol content. After all, that’s what the V8 Supercars have been running on for the past two years. But, and isn’t there always a but, when
In this age of political correctness, the inclusion of electronic technology in new vehicles actually can work against its approval. Take, for example, the instant readout of fuel consumption. Without onboard electronics you could ignore the fact that trips to the fuel bowser were costing rather more than you wanted to mention to anyone. But now, there it all is, in a brightly lit digital display. With adjustment in microseconds, it’s there to remind you, on the readout, that you are using fuel at a rate of 21 litres/100km while chugging around town. Oh, for a piece of open road where, with a spot of ultra-light toe pressure, you can actually reduce that fuel burn figure down to a readout as low as 7 litres/100 km. Yes, it’s achievable, but no, it’s not something you can do all the time, neither is it why you bought the V8 in the first place. Buying a Commodore SS-V Ute, with its 6.0-litre, Generation IV alloy V8 that pumps out 270 kW at 5,700 rpm and 530 Nm of torque rated at 4,400 rpm, probably occurs because you’ve had enough with ‘making do’ through the years of hard labour. This is something you are doing just for yourself. And if it makes you feel good every time you sit behind the wheel, then so be it. Choosing the V8 option gives you 50 kW more oomph than the highest rated V6 from Holden, plus you’ve also got the full added grunt of a further 180 Nm of torque. And yet ironically, you don’t need high octane fuel to prove your superiority of pleasure. In this new format, the V8 6.0-litre will happily run on standard unleaded, or ethanol mixed with petrol at the standard ten percent mix of the E10 bowser, right up to the latest 85 percent mix of Caltex Bio E-Flex fuel.
running on E85 your fuel economy could suffer by up to 30 percent. Perhaps that’s something that Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup don’t agonise over, as they try to sleep at night before another round of the championship. Let’s just concentrate here on the positives. We’ll start with safety, and you kick off the chart with a full five-star ANCAP rating. You’ve got Electronic Stability Control incorporating an Anti-Lock Braking System, Elelctronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Brake Assist and a Traction Control System. Under the car you’ll find sports tuned spring and damper rates, and reduced ride height. There are dual-stage airbags, side impact airbags and side curtain airbags for the
UTE WITH ATTITUDE driver and passenger. The seatbelts have load limiters and pyrotechnic pre-tensioners that fire off, at the first sign of a nasty impact coming your way, and tighten you into your seat. At each corner of the SS-V you’ll find 19-inch alloys shod with 245/90R19 tyres. Whether you insist on a full sized alloy 19 x 8 spare, or accept a 17 x 7 steel spare, is actually your call at purchase time. At the front you’ll find fog lamps and projector headlamps, while down at the back you’ll find a sparkly set of four chrome tips on the end of the four exhaust pipes. Climb back inside, and behind your leather wrapped steering wheel you’ll find the onboard data that earlier we wished we didn’t necessarily have all the time. This is the purveyor of knowledge such as average fuel consumption, average speed, digital speed display, distance and time remaining, fuel used and impending range, odometer, trip meter, trip time and a visual and audible speed warning. And, of course, there’s more. The problem here, though, is whether or not you actually think that more equates with better. Holden is very proud of its multifunction driver display that links controls on the steering wheel with a big 6.5-inch touchy, feely digital display screen.
The multifunction aspect features illuminated controls for the audio system, trip computer, enhanced Bluetooth matching for your mobile phone, satellite navigation with live traffic updates, plus iPod integration with touch screen access for playlists, artist selection, album choice or individual song choice. The internal flash drive can rip a copy of a CD, while it’s playing, and store it into its internal memory, and, of course, you can pick and choose between music stored on your USB stick, your MP3 system, your phone or your iPad. With a sound system that is so interactive and offers such a vast amount of optional entertainment, I am left wondering just how much time will be spent, by the driver, accessing, or altering, the multifunction system while on the move.
visit to the IAA Commercial Vehicle show in Hanover highlights an almost lack of enthusiasm and interest shown in light commercials by the various importers in Australia.
The European market is full of innovation and excitement with new product and interesting bodywork applications but unfortunately too many auto executives in Australia lack foresight for anything other than the latest high performance piece sedan.
The Australian market is starved for choice when compared with European LCV activity
It’s largely been left to the niche importers such as Citroen, Fiat and Peugeot plus the likes of truck maker Iveco with its Daily to import interesting product. Renault is also a case in point, with excellent product but a lack of resource and intent on presenting it in depth on the Australian market. Ford is no better with an almost dismissive attitude to the way it markets the Transit in our market but Holden deserves the NIMBY award for not bringing in the products available under the Nissan/General Motors alliance to which Renault has access. Volkswagen stands alone for its obvious enthusiasm for light commercials and the fact that its marketing team likes nothing better than talking vans to anyone with a spare moment to listen. Mercedes-Benz could rival Volkswagen but while their products remain certainly comparable, there seems to be a corporate conspiracy to keep the features and benefits of the product line a well kept secret. The European experience offers a van enthusiast an almost open ended excitement by the plethora or product available. Let’s look at just some of the options. In Hannover at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show there was plenty of activity on the Volkswagen stand where Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, Speaker for the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, was as upbeat as we’ve ever seen him. “In the past 12 months alone, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have presented three new models, the new T5, the Amarok, and, most recently, the new Caddy. These series feature lower consumption, even greater safety, and still more comfort and convenience,” as Dr. Schreiber explained. In the current fiscal year, by the end of August the brand achieved worldwide growth in deliveries of 18.1 percent, providing 269,800 light commercial vehicles comprising Caddy, T5, Crafter and Amarok, as well as the Brazilian models Saveiro and T2 (January – August 2009: 228,400).
Volkswagen continues its push to be the largest global manufacturer with new releases for the Caddy and the Amarok attracting lots of attention in Hannover.
EUROPEAN ROUND-UP The Speaker for the Board of Management emphasised how confident he was that the new Caddy will be achieving just as sustained and positive order figures as the new T5 for the remainder of the year. Thanks to its increased efficiency, its convincing overall economy, and its even higher quality of fittings, September orders for the new Caddy were already up some 20 percent. The Crafter achieved an increase of 9.2 percent to 22,420 deliveries worldwide. Since 1901 and the launch of its single-cylinder van, Renault has been a major player in LCVs. It has been the LCV market leader in Western Europe for the past 12 years, and even increased its market share this year, from 14.4 percent at end-August 2009 to 15.7 percent at end-August 2010. This increase was driven primarily by the launch of three new models at the start of the year: New Master, New Trafic and Kangoo Van Maxi. Renault’s LCV range now spans load volumes of between two and 22 m3, in order to meet all the needs of business customers.
Renault has developed several innovative purchasing concepts for its electric vehicle. Ownership of the vehicle will be separate to that of the battery. Customers will be able to purchase, or rent, their Z.E. van and take out a subscription for the battery. In the UK, this will cost from £59 excluding VAT per month, based on four years, 9,000 miles per year. Based on the standard Renault Kangoo Van, the electric van delivers zero-emission mobility for business customers who care about environmental issues. It is designed to set high standards in durability and reliability. Renault Kangoo Van Z.E is 4.21m long with a load capacity of between 3 and 3.5 m3, a load length of 2,500mm and a payload of 650 kg. The batteries are located in the centre of the vehicle under the floor, so load capacity is exactly the same as on the internal combustion-engined Kangoo Van. The asymmetric hinged rear doors and sliding slide door provide easy access to the cargo area, which is large enough to take a euro-pallet.
At the IAA this year Renault premiered the production version of Kangoo Van Z.E. (Zero Emission), the first allelectric van developed and built by a vehicle manufacturer. Kangoo Van Z.E. will be sold in Europe for€20,000 excluding VAT and any national tax incentives. In the UK, it will sell for £16,990 excluding VAT, given that the £5,000 incentive for electric cars is not currently available on light commercial vehicles. Electric LCVs are however, eligible for 100% capital write-down allowance.
Electric power continues to become more attractive as technology gains increase distance between charges and reduce purchase pricing.
nce you buy a 4WD you’ll want to explore. It may just be a fishing trip or you may want to head into the bush for a picnic, but wherever, and for whatever reason, you leave the safety of the bitumen, you need to plan for the worst. Planning means taking equipment that solves problems, and, not surprisingly, learning how to use the equipment so you don’t cause more problems. Taking the right gear means having a check list and buying from a reputable supplier. You certainly don’t need to load up the tray of your ute, but there are some sensible items that should be included. First and foremost, we take a comprehensive first aid kit, and someone in the group who’s attended a first aid training course. Rendering first aid isn’t rocket science, but you do need to know how to handle the basics like snake and spider bites, heat stroke or hypothermia, a serious cut and bleeding, plus how to at least stabilise a broken limb. Also take a fire extinguisher. Now to communication. Being lost is one thing. Not being able to tell anyone you’re lost is another. Check before you leave that mobile phones have coverage, or consider hiring a satellite phone. If you are heading somewhere without any phone coverage, we’d seriously suggest taking an EPIRB for use in a total emergency. The yachties do it, and an EPIRB works just as well on land as in water. Admittedly, you may be summoning help from a passing Boeing 747, but it’s still help. Finally, tell someone where you are heading and arrange to call in at regular intervals. It’s basic safety, but it works every time. Now to equipment. For years we’ve been using Bushranger Auto Gear for all our recovery requirements. Available from all reputable off-road and accessory shops, Bushranger tests everything to make sure it works safely. And you need that piece of mind. There’s nothing worse than using a random piece of equipment and finding it fails. It’s at this level that you want success and not failure, as, without being too melodramatic, your life could depend on it.
You may have a soft off-roader, or the work ute, but the principles of recovery are the same. Bushranger believes the flood of compact SUV’s on the market, and many of the marketing campaigns used to sell them, have given buyers an unreal expectation of the vehicle’s off-road capabilities. According to Bushranger CEO, Evan Black, the addition of some relatively inexpensive off-road accessories, and the right advice, training and attitude, means there are now few places you can’t take a light duty 4WD or AWD. Off-road expert, Mick McCulkin, of Tri-State Tours in Broken Hill, says that most people don’t realise how a relatively small amount of equipment, used properly, can ensure they negotiate some pretty tough off-road conditions. “The question we ask is, ‘are you prepared?’ And, we have compiled a check list of recovery equipment to cover most aspects of heading off-road in safety and confidence,” he added. With a starting investment of under $1000, an SUV owner can equip their vehicle to tackle marginal conditions such as sand dunes, mud holes and areas of low grip, so that they can visit remote areas with a minimum of fuss. The recovery list includes a number of key items, such as Bushranger snatch straps and bow shackles etc., as well as other items like an Extracta hand winch, an X-Jack exhaust jack, X-Trax, a quality compressor, tyre gauge and a tyre repair kit.
GOING BUSH “The items on the check list are all easily stowed in a small four wheel drive, and are easy to use so long as the guidelines are followed,” said Evan Black. The vehicle preparation checklist is comprised of items that can be added to the vehicle, before heading bush, to enhance performance and also to protect your investment in the vehicle by preventing damage. Ask you tyre dealer about the tyres you have on your SUV or ute. They may be great on the bitumen but their construction will dictate how they perform off-road. You may need a different tread pattern or stronger sidewall construction to minimise the risk of puncture and failure. Either way, ask you local expert. We’re not talking here about extensively modifying your SUV, or ute, to straddle the biggest mountain in the area. We’re looking at avoiding trouble rather than inviting it. One of the issues with smaller SUV’s is recovery points. Some vehicles have dedicated recovery points whilst others do not. Hence, the inclusion of the Bushranger recovery hitch is an essential recovery option. It gives you a safe and secure fixing point for tow straps and snatch straps. We would always add a high quality, portable air compressor, such as Bushranger’s Max Air, Auto Max or Black Max. There are times when you need to deflate your tyres, as when crossing very soft sand, and these pumps will easily re-inflate tyres, even if you’ve had to fix a puncture. To go along with your compressor you’ll need a quality tyre pressure gauge, such as Bushranger’s 3-in-1 digital gauge, and a Bushranger Plugga tyre repair kit. A winch is the easy way to haul yourself out of trouble. You can take a hand winch or you can mount an electric one to the front of the ute. Ask your Bushranger rep for advice on which winch will best suit your physical ability or vehicle type. And, before you head off, take some lessons on how to work the things safely. One wrong move and you can kill one of your family members. That may also sound melodramatic, but winching has to be done professionally, and with full safety controls in place. In 30 years of off-road driving I’ve seen some terrifying examples portrayed by people who should have known better. If they don’t listen to advice, give them a very, very wide berth. You will need a tow strap and snatch strap, so pick one that matches your vehicle weight. Add quality bow shackles for making safe connections, and add a tree protector strap for good measure.
The increasing number of crossover SUV models offering all-wheeldrive tempts drivers to head off road but pre-trip preparation is vital for safety.
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