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AUSTRALIA’S GUIDE TO UTES, VANS, LIGHT TRUCKS & PEOPLE MOVERS

www.deliverymagazine.com.au

ISSUE 45 December/ January 2012-13 RRP: $7.95

the latest Delivery Magazine is an AFMA Strategic Alliance Partner

IN UTES, VANS LIGHT TRUCKS & PEOPLE MOVERS


FEATURE

Shape of The Future A visit to the IAA Show in Hannover shows what lies ahead in van design and safety.

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``f you imagine the size of the Sydney or Melbourne exhibition centres and then add a multiple of 12, you get a basic understanding of the size of the Hannover IAA commercial Vehicle Show. It’s an event dedicated to all things commercial, from vans and light trucks through to the heaviest prime movers, and includes bodywork, trailer design and the next generation of technology that’s waiting just around the corner.

For the German manufacturers of Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, it’s an obvious tussle to see which of the two giants gets star billing. Each attempts to out do the other when it comes to stand size and the number of vehicles on display, and this year’s event was no different. Mercedes-Benz led the new-release race with the first public display of its new small van. Called the Citan, apparently derived from a combination of the words City and Titan, it’s the first example of closer cooperation between Mercedes-Benz and Renault, with this particular German manufacturer building its interpretation of competition in the small van segment on the base of Renault’s Kangoo. There are three lengths and three different model variations, all including safety systems such as Adaptive ESP and up to six airbags. At the top end of the Citan spectrum is a 3.8 cu. m loadspace and a payload of 800 kg. Fuel economy is a low 4.3 l/100 km and emissions levels are equally impressive at 112 g/km of CO2. There’s also a passenger carrying crossover model called the Mixto, which offers five seats with a folding rear bench and access into the rear through sliding doors on one or both sides. At the lighter end of the Citan, the loadspace floor length is 1.36 m, the mid range Citan offers 1.75 m and the longest

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version offers 2.13 m. The corresponding cargo volumes run at 2.4 cu. m, 3.1 cu. m or 3.8 cu. m, with payloads of 500 kg, 635 kg and 800 kg. The words “small” and “safety” were not always happy bedfellows, but, with Citan, the buyer gets as much protection as could be anticipated from a much larger vehicle. As should be expected, Citan offers electronic stability programming, traction control, anti-lock braking, brake torque control and a vehicle dynamic system that regulates understeer and oversteer. If you actually hit anything, expect a full pyrotechnic display as airbags inflate from orifices that you didn’t know existed in a small van. We will probably not see the Citan for a further six months in Australia, and, when it does arrive, it will be with a selection of engines based on the Mercedes-Benz OM 607, fourcylinder, turbocharged direct-injection diesel of 1.5 litres. This is currently available in power outputs of 55 kW, 66 kW and 81 kW, with corresponding torque ratings of 180 Nm, 200 Nm and 240 Nm. There is a turbocharged petrol 1.2-litre, four-cylinder also available in Europe that produces 84 kW and 190 Nm. This is an impressive little engine that includes an aluminium crankcase, double overhead camshafts and a controlled oil pump. A standard feature on the petrol engine is automatic stop/start, which becomes an option on the diesels. This is going to be a seriously quick little delivery van, and, thanks to the inclusion of a variable geometry turbo in both the petrol and diesel versions, the pick up from stationary should be rather impressive. The petrol and top spec diesel


THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE

“Mercedes Citan offers electronic stability programming, traction control, anti-lock braking and brake torque control.”

both get a six-speed manual gearbox, with the smaller and mid-range diesel opting for a five-speed, both driving through the front wheels. Whether you think of yourself as having a green attitude to life or not, you’ll be purchasing the latest technology controlling generator and battery management, and you’ll be running on low rolling-resistance tyres to get the best distance for each litre of fuel you use. So far, nobody from the media has had the chance to hop behind the wheel of a Citan, but that’s something we hope to amend shortly. That said, we did get the chance to have a brief on-road experience of the Vito E-CELL Crewbus, the first all-electric passenger carrier on active duty in the market. Mercedes-Benz ercedes-Benz was running a fleet of E-CELL Vito’s around the alleyways and service roads of the IAA Show, and it didn’t take much effort to persuade one of the drivers to share the drive experience. That’s the great benefit of having enthusiastic employees, they really want you to share the love of the new technology. The E-CELL Crewbus has a great future as an airport shuttle where it can recharge after short hops to the terminal. The current operating distance without recharge is around 130 km, and, interestingly, to conserve electricity, the heater runs on liquefied gas. With full electric power it is, of course, almost silent in operation. The power applies very smoothly through the DELIVERY

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FEATURE

CLEVER y d T

he small van segment is one of the major features of the European market. Head to any city, and the most common form of light commercial, after the traditional one tonne van, each has at least a slight resemblance to that of a passenger vehicle.

d a C

Admittedly, not all small vans look like a car without windows: many use the same floor pan from a passenger car derivative and add a van-like body, complete with barn doors at the rear or a top-hinged tailgate.

It’s a growing segment for the Australian market, with all the front running having been made by Volkswagen with its Caddy. In fact, Caddy, in its van form, actually holds 56 percent of this segment for the first eight months of this year, and grew this hold over the market to 64.8 percent in August. This small van segment continues to grow, comprising other European brands such as Citroen with the Berlingo, Holden with the Combo, and Renault with the Partner and Kangoo. The other slightly different contender in this segment is Suzuki, where its APV is a cabover design rather than featuring a bonnet.

The Volkswagen Caddy’s popularity is a tribute to the standing within the minds of commercial vehicle operators that VW continues to maintain this position of being number one. It’s also a slight testimony to the inadequacies of the marketing strategies of the main competition, which seem incapable of getting a grasp on the needs and the preferences of the lightcommercial vehicle buyer.

It took VW to generate interest in the car-derived van segment, and it now reaps the

advantage of holding

60 percent of market share

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Our renewed interest in this segment results from Volkswagen having once again taken the marketing initiative by launching new special edition Runner models to its Caddy and Transporter range of vans. Available in limited numbers of 200 and 350 respectively, the Runner special edition vans represent exceptional value for commercial vehicle buyers. Priced at $19,990 drive-away for the Caddy Van Runner Special Edition, and $29,990 drive-away for the Transporter Runner Special Edition, these vehicles offer a new entry-level price for both Caddy and Transporter ranges, previously starting at $21,990 for the Caddy Van Trendline and $36,740 for the Transporter Van. Interior trim levels have been toughened up for the Runner Special Edition with the inclusion of hard-wearing, heavy-duty ‘Runner’ trim, exclusive to the range, plus unique ‘Runner’ badging. The sharp drive-away pricing for both Runner variants should attract new buyers to the brand, given both models’ list of features including ESP, hill hold


CLEVER CADDY

control, ‘climatic’ air conditioning and daytime running lights – along with the performance and efficiency of Volkswagen’s TSI and TDI engines. The Caddy Van Runner is equipped with a 63 kW/160 Nm TSI 160 turbocharged petrol engine with a combined fuel cycle of 6.9 l/100 km; while the Transporter features a TDI 250 75 kW/250 Nm turbocharged diesel engine, maintaining an impressive balance of pulling power with frugal 7.5 l/100 km fuel economy. The Caddy and Transporter Runner Special Editions are both backed by the VW three-year, unlimited distance warranty, and offer 800 kg and 1149 kg payloads respectively. Caddy van buyers looking at the entire range now have a choice of four different four-cylinder engines; two petrol engines, each of 1.2 litres; and two diesels, one of 1.6 litres and the other of 2.0 litres.

The Caddy has been the catalyst for van buyers to consider smaller vans for urban deliveries. The cost advantages and convenience of easy parking and high standards of vehicle safety make this a very appealing segment.

Choosing the higher output TS 175 over the TS 160 petrol engine brings in a maximum power output of 77 kW at 5,000 rpm and peak torque of 175 Nm rated from 1,550 to 4,100 rpm. Those looking for diesel economy can option up to the TDI 320 and gain a performance increase to 103 kW at 4,200 rpm and peak torque of 320 Nm at 1,500-2,500 rpm. All these versions of the Caddy are front-wheel-drive, but, for gear shifting, you’ll be looking at five-speed manuals for both petrol versions. The buyers of the 1.6-litre TDI 250 diesel get the choice between a five-speed manual and a sevenspeed DSG automated manual. Those looking at the 2.0-litre diesel can only have a six-speed DSG or can option up for

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FEATURE

The IAA Show is a magnet for global commercial Allan Whiting reports from Hannover on the

vehicle innovators.

latest electric vehicles.

ustralia may think it talks the talk, but the Europeans are already out walking the walk with electric propulsion as zero pollution becomes more attractive. There’s no doubt that electric vehicles will become a common sight in European cities, and already some manufacturers have electric versions of conventional vehicles in daily service. Let’s start with the ones you can already order, in Europe and some overseas markets. The Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell electric panel van is already on sale across Europe, and more than 500 vehicles are operating, so the world’s leading truck maker released a seven-seater people-mover version of the Vito E-Cell at the IAA. Naturally, the Delivery Magazine crew jumped aboard one of the release vehicles for an on-road experience, and came away impressed. Based on the Vito E-Cell van, the Crewbus is powered by a permanentmagnet electric motor with an output of 60 kW and torque of 280 Nm.

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Another new release was the Sprinter E-Cell van, introducing electric drive technology to the large van sector. In the Vito E-Cell, the electric motor and transmission are mounted under the bonnet, but the rear-wheel-drive Sprinter E-Cell has its electric motor, transmission and final drive mounted on a rubberbushed, aluminium sub-frame just in front of the rear wheels. The suspension on the 3.5-tonnes-GVM show vehicle was independent trailing arms and coil springs. The electric motor is rated at 70 kW continuous output, with short-term peak output of 100 kW. Continuous torque of 220 Nm is available from a standing start, with a 270 Nm short-term peak. Current is provided by two lithium-ion batteries, each with 93 cells and a combined capacity of 35.2 kW/h. The Sprinter E-Cell’s 22 kW/32 amp charger is worthy of note, because Mercedes-Benz claims a full recharge from a 400-volt power


CHARGED UP source in less than two hours. The charging socket is positioned in place of the usual tank filler neck.

president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd, head of the Global LCV Business Unit.

Top speed is limited to 80 km/h, and, with a New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) energy consumption of 27 kW/h, the range between charges is approximately 135 km.

The eNV200 should be able to carry the same payload as the conventionally powered NV200. Charging time for the Nissan LEAF is as fast as 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, and that’s the target for the eNV200’s advanced, laminated, lithium-ion battery as well.

Iveco launched the Daily Electric in 2009, following development that dates back to 1986 and recent real-world trials with pick-up and delivery companies. It’s distributed, warranted and serviced by the Iveco dealer network in Europe and, now, in Brazil. The Daily Electric comes as a van or cab/chassis (3.5-tonne GVM on single rear wheels and 5.2-tonne on duals). Power comes from a front-positioned 30 kW continuous and 60 kW peak-output electric motor, with power coming from a 76 Ah/21.2 kW/h capacity, sodium nickel chloride battery. Gearing is unusual, via a conventional automatic transmission, and is electronically limited to 70 km/h. Gradeability at maximum GVM is said to be 16 percent. Full battery charge is eight hours and guarantees mileage up to 130 km in urban use. Nissan chose the IAA for a world premiere preview of the e-NV200 van, which combines elements of the world’s best-selling pure-EV car, the LEAF, and the NV200, the 2010 International Van of the Year. “When production starts in Spain, in the 2013 financial year, e-NV200 will cement Nissan’s place as the world leader in zero-emission mobility,” said Hideto Murakami, corporate vice

The battery is composed of 48 compact modules, powering an 80 kW peak-power, AC, synchronous motor that generates 280 Nm of torque from a standing start. The battery pack is located under-floor, lowering the centre of gravity and freeing cargo volume space. A bonus for service businesses is the e-NV200’s ability to power electric tools and equipment up to 6 kW draw. As well as the show vehicle’s panel van configuration, e-NV200 will be available as a passenger-carrying combi and as a seven-seat Evalia people-mover. A small fleet of converted battery-powered NV200s has been lent to globally recognised collection and delivery companies, including the Japan Post Service and FedEx. For the French connection, PSA Peugeot-Citroen unveiled allelectric versions of the Partner and Berlingo vans during the IAA Show. The two platform-sharing vans were positioned opposite each other on the respective stands, so it was difficult to miss seeing them. Twin lithium-ion battery packs, situated beneath the load floor of each van and with a total capacity of 22.5 kW/h, supply power to the van’s front-wheel-drive electric motor. Peak power is a claimed 49 kW, with torque of 200 Nm. Drive is via a single-speed, reduction transmission.

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FEATURE

FOCUS ON

FOR In Australia, it seems as though Ford is almost about to throw in the towel. But, with new product waiting to be introduced into our market, the blue oval has a whole new life ahead of it. Chris Mullett reports from IAA Hannover 40

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FOCUS ON FORD

T

RD

ake your mindset away from global carmakers continuing to indulge in local manufacturing. Like a shot duck, that scenario is already well into its death throes. Think instead of the potential for the future. What new product is available? Does it fit our market? Can it succeed and can it return a profit on investment? For Ford, with its light-commercial and people-mover range, the answer is a resounding yes on all counts. But success comes from commitment, and that’s the question Ford management has to face if it is ever going to return to large black ink entries on the balance sheet.

The recently announced closure of manufacturing plants in Belgium and at the home of Transit in Southampton, England, leaves the van production currently at the Ford plant in Kocaeli, Turkey. Ford is not alone for ignoring the earnings potential of its light-commercial range. Holden is probably worse by comparison, relying only on the aging Commodore and the new Colorado, and not considering other GM product it could source from Europe. Ford at least has continued to market the Transit in Australia, even if it has done so without any enthusiasm and certainly without any commitment. The lack of focus by Ford has resulted in its market share drop since the introduction of Hyundai’s iLoad, and the company has failed to react to the resulting reduction in sales. Now comes a second and, perhaps, final chance for Ford to regain its lost ground. Does it have the commitment and enthusiasm to turn around its fortunes, or is it hampered completely by not being prepared to fight for its own survival when faced with an overly dictatorial attitude of its US parent? Insider comment from within the Ford enclave at Campbellfield in Victoria suggests that Ford Australia is not in control of its own destiny. Constantly hampered by a lack of freedom to make its own judgments and import vehicles it not only wants, but needs, in this market to gain sales, it’s been forced to accept marketing strategies from globally appointed agencies, rather than hunt for new blood and hire new talent. So, what has generated this analysis of Ford’s under achievement? The answer is the new product on display at the IAA commercial vehicle show in Hannover, Germany. And, by new product, we mean the all-new Transit, plus the DELIVERY

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TESTED

on’t jump to the conclusion that we are saying Isuzu is market leader in the ute market with its all-new D-MAX. The sales figures show that’s not the case, with even a cursory glance at the first nine months of this year clearly showing that, in the 4x2 market, the leader is Toyota’s HiLux with a market share of 23.9 percent. The 4x4 ute market confirms that the market leader is again the HiLux with 21.5 percent of the market segment. 54

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TERRAIN TOPPER

No, what we are saying is that while Toyota has the runs on the board, all verified by the sales charts, when compared directly, the ute we at Delivery magazine would buy would have an Isuzu badge on the bonnet and tailgate. Ford’s Ranger and Mazda’s BT-50 come out of the same melting pot and feature identical engines, transmission options and bodywork options. Both are good vehicles with strong engines. The manual transmission is not the best example of a gearbox, making the automatic transmission the preferred option. As a buyer, you choose which badge

Isuzu missed out on a five star classification by having only single acting front seat belt pre-tensioners and came in with four stars. According to inside sources, Isuzu is taking immediate steps to include the change to fit dual acting pretensioners and to have the D-Max reclassified, with the aim of gaining full five star status. A spokesperson for Toyota stated that five star classification for HiLux was unlikely to be seen before the end of 2013. Power and performance as well as fuel economy for Hilux are also not in the same ballpark as the latest competitors. The award of five-star crash rating safety is going to substantially affect the ute market, particularly where sales and supply to mines are concerned. The big miners are only interested in the highest safety standards, and, for most, that means five-star safety and nothing less. We’ve been testing the Isuzu D-Max in LS Terrain crew cab form, and this is about the top spec model in the line-up. Available with manual or automatic transmissions, both with five ratios, the 4x4 version has a limited-slip differential with snorkelled differential breathers to increase water-fording depths.

you want on the bonnet largely for reasons of ease of purchase through your local dealer. Other than that, you’ll be happy enough with your buying decision. Holden’s Colorado and Isuzu Ute’s D-MAX are both based on the design created by Isuzu Ute. If you believe Holden, it’s a Holden design, and if you talk to Isuzu Ute, they’ll explain that they did all the work. One thing is clear, the engines and gearboxes are different between both makes, Holden using VM-Motori engines of 2.5 or 2.8 litres, and Isuzu staying with its 3.0 litre, four-cylinder. Also different are the factories in which each is built. Although both are in Thailand, that’s the only similarity. The HiLux may currently hold top spot in the sales charts but it is by no means the best product on the market, failing to match the five star crash safety ratings of Mazda and Ford with the Ranger and BT-50, Volkswagen with the Amarok or Holden with the Colorado.

Interior standards include air conditioning, cruise control and an integral Sat/Nav system mounted in the dashboard.

The automatic transmission is electronically controlled with Adaptive Grade Logic and a lock-up torque converter in 2nd, 3rd and 4th gear ratios. There’s a Power mode button that raises the gear shift points further up the engine rev range, and, when on slippery surfaces such as snow and ice, a further selection will see the start from rest applied in 3rd gear, keeping revs low and reducing the tendency for any chance of wheel slip. The driver can select 4WD/high from 2WD/high by turning a knob on the centre console at speeds up to 100 km/h, but when selecting 4WD/low range the vehicle must be stationary. In high range, the engine to final drive matching is 1:1, while a drop back to 4WD/low will swap the ratio to 2.482:1. Isuzu has been making trucks for years, and is renowned for making extremely tough products. Consequently, when you look at the way the new Ute is designed and manufactured, you can appreciate the strength built in to the product. DELIVERY

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here’s every reason for Volkswagen to be jubilant, especially with the global sales figures for the first nine months of 2012 showing the group delivered 409,300 urban delivery vehicles, transporters and pickups to customers throughout the world. Compared to the corresponding period in 2011, this represents an increase of 4.9 percent. Worldwide deliveries of the Amarok ute were up by 23.9 percent to 58,700 vehicles, Crafter deliveries rose by 35.4 percent to 36,400 units, and deliveries of the Transporter T5 series increased by 3.6 percent to 119,900. Worldwide, Caddy deliveries were down by 2.2 percent to 115,800 vehicles. In the Australian market, the overall volumes for the first ten months of this year (V-Facts YTD October) show very little change, with a slight reduction in the one-tonne van market by 1.8 percent to a total of 14,358 units. Toyota’s HiAce hung on to number one spot, with 36.8 percent market share and a volume of 5,349 units, over number two place getter, Hyundai, with its iLoad at 34 percent of the market and sales of 4,948 vehicles. Volkswagen’s performance in our domestic market sees the Transporter at 9.0 percent market share, the Amarok 4x2 at 1.4 percent and the 4x4 at 4.5 percent. In terms of overall market share, VW has increased its percentage from 3.1 percent in 2011 (VFacts YTD October) to 5.0 percent, representing sales of 8,137 light commercial vehicles overall from total sales in this segment that achieved 164,315 units. The Volkswagen display at the IAA Truck Show in Hannover was nothing short of impressive, with 120 different vehicles portrayed within an area of about 10,000 m2.

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ON PARADE As well as the Amarok, Caddy, Crafter, and Transporter on the main corporate stand, there were an additional 62 vehicles with various bodywork options displayed in other areas. The Amarok Canyon is how German designers foresee the requirements of off-road sports fans. First seen at the Geneva Salon as a design exercise, it goes into production early next year. The Cross Caddy is an all-rounder, which creates a bridge between the MPV and the SUV. With its off-road look and its off-road characteristics, it also hits the showrooms in the second quarter of 2013. The VW display was certainly almost overbearing in its size and variation, but one of the more interesting aspects was actually found outside the main halls, where VW displayed various models from its range through previous years.

The display at Hannover included new and historic vehicles.

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o to any European city, and you’ll see vans of all sizes and descriptions. They jostle for position in traffic and they come with all types of bodywork, from elevating platform to common or garden dropside tray. They are sourced from Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, France, England and even Turkey, and in most cases their popularity in sales results from the nationality of their brand and their production source.

The Crafter is Volkswagen’s big van, and it’s available in a variety of lengths and heights with corresponding changes in load carrying ability and overall GVM. Each version weighs in around the 2,000-2,200 kg mark, and payloads in the main are pretty much constant at around 1.5 tonnes in the Crafter 35 models. It’s only when you start to order the Crafter 50 van, with its higher GVM of 5,000 kg, that the payload increases, rising to as high as 2,200 kg. What does change, though, is the size of the body. The first choice is for a Standard Roof height, a Medium Roof or a Super High roof version. The three roof height choices are 2,415 mm, 2,705 mm and 2,940 mm and apply to the medium-wheelbase body. Move to the long-wheelbase version and the Standard Roof height is no longer an option. Next comes the question of length. The medium-wheelbase version in Standard, High or Super High roof form, has a distance between the axles of 3,665 mm, expanding to 4,325 mm in the longer wheelbase models. Overall external lengths are 5,905 mm for the medium and 6,940 mm for the longwheelbase model. Those wanting extended interior length can then move out to the long wheelbase with overhang, which reaches an overall dimension of 7,340 mm. The one dimension that doesn’t vary through these different models is that of width, which is standardised at 2,426 mm. What does change, is the cargo volume, moving from a start point of 9.0 cu. metres, passing through 10.5 cu. metres, 14.0 cu. metres, 15.5 cu. metres and concluding with the largest volume of 17.0 cu. metres. Take a serious look at your intended use before heading up to the 17.0 cu. metre, long-wheelbase with Super High roof and overhang. This is a seriously large and long van. It takes 15.6 metres to turn around, a full two metres more than the medium-wheelbase model, and it also takes up more space to park. It’s not a slot into Woolies car park option when heading for home. It’s longer and higher than the average car park space. There’s also the question of needing a light truck driver’s licence for the top rated Crafter 50 if you want maximum 68

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payload. If you are prepared to hold back your GVM to under 4.5 tonnes, the van can be downrated, at the time of purchase and original registration, to conform to the same licence as required for a passenger car. This is a paperwork exercise conducted at the motor vehicle registry and does not affect the vehicle in any way mechanically. Driving any of the Crafter models is no more difficult than that of a large private car. If anything, because of the high seating position and excellent door mounted mirrors, it might even be easier. There’s also none of the truck-like variations in ride comfort, suspension and road holding. The front suspension uses independent MacPherson struts, mounted on a sub-frame with coil springs, much the same as any number of modern cars. The rear suspension features a live axle mounted on leaf springs, and the steering is by rack


VOLKSWAGEN’S BIG VAN IMPROVES WITH AGE and pinion with power assistance. The in-built safety systems are also car-like, including electronic stability programming, anti-lock brakes, anti-skid regulation, electronic brake force distribution and a hill holder to prevent roll back when starting off on an incline. The brakes themselves are discs all round for maximum performance. From a body perspective, not much has changed since the Crafter and its Mercedes-Benz sibling, the Sprinter, first left the same factory they share at Ludwigsfelde, in what used to be East Berlin. Both are built together on the same production line, the differences mainly being those of engine and transmission fitment, together, of course, with the change of grille and badge. The interiors of both the Crafter and the Sprinter are largely identical. The dashboard, instruments, steering wheel feel and controls are all indistinguishable. The overall layout of the cabin is also a perfect

match, offering a full-width and full-height bulkhead behind the seats, or removed to provide for walk-thru access into the cargo area. What does change though, as mentioned, are the choices facing the buyer when it comes to the engine and transmission. The latest Crafter has been upgraded, with the older design of five-cylinder diesel engine replaced by the latest Euro V version with four cylinders. There are three versions of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder, with each sharing the same bore and stroke dimensions. The changes in power and performance come from the use of different turbocharger hardware. The TD1300 engine produces 80 kW at 3,500 rpm and peak torque of 300 Nm rated at 1,500-2,250 rpm, and it uses a single variable geometry turbocharger with EGR and an intercooler. The TD1430 engine bumps up the pressure with a bi-turbo installation, again with EGR, and an intercooler to produce outputs of 105 kW at 3,500 rpm and peak torque of 340 Nm rated between 1,575 and 2,250 rpm.

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IAA HANNOVER

BIG AMBITIONS Nissan intends to be the world’s largest light commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world by 2016. Are they dreaming? Chris Mullett reports from Hannover

T

he power of positive thought is a great attribute, but when a Japanese company such as Nissan makes a statement that it will be the world’s number one supplier of light commercial vehicles within a three year timeframe, more than one industry commentator might wonder just what the executives are smoking in the boardroom.

It might all make some sense if the German giants of Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz were not already going toe to toe with exactly the same stated intention. But, as Nissan fronts up for a fight for market share, Delivery takes a look at what we might expect in our market.

economic down turn and the Forex volatility – Nissan sold over one million units globally in the last financial year,(FY 2011)” said Hideto Murakami, corporate vice president, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd, in charge of the Global LCV Business Unit. “As a result, our ambition to become a global LCV player has been encouraged. Our target now is to be the world’s leading LCV manufacturer by 2016,” Mr. Murakami added. Global LCV sales already account for around 20 percent of all Nissan sales, and the ambition will be achieved by expansion in new markets, strategic partnerships, and substantial growth in traditional markets. An on-going new model offensive will see the company with one of the youngest model ranges of any manufacturer.

“Despite the huge head winds our business faced last year – the devastating Japanese earthquake, floods, and, of course, the

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The NV200 has been chosen as New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow, joining the streets of the Big Apple towards the end of 2013. Other applications include London where versions conforming to the UK’s strict ‘Hackney Carriage’ regulations will see sales of the first Nissan NV200 Black Cabs start in early 2013.


BIG AMBITIONS e-NV200 is based on Nissan LEAF-based running gear and can recharge its battery to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes.

did even better as production increased by more than 28,000 units, a rise of 68 percent. This increase in productivity and quality has led to Spain winning the contract for no fewer than three significant new vehicles due to enter the market in the next two years. Earlier this year, it was announced that Avila had won the contract to produce In Europe, Nissan will launch six new or substantially revised products by 2013, with a further five new models before 2016.

Nissan light commercials are a major component in the company strategy to increase market share

In North America, Nissan has developed the NV200 Taxi, and, with an aim of gaining global awareness of its brand, this bright yellow people mover will arrive on the streets of New York towards the end of 2013. The roll out of the NV200 Taxi is the start of a ten-year programme to completely replace every one of the city’s 13,000 iconic yellow cabs. Nissan’s Electric Vehicle ability is well catalogued with the Leaf zero-emission passenger car, and this programme extends in 2013 to include the LCV market with the launch of an all-electric version of the NV200 to be called the e-NV200. Nissan is also looking to Europe for a major contribution to its growth. Its seven-vehicle model range covers 93 percent of the market, giving the company coverage in virtually every segment. Currently selling about 50,000 units per year – most of which are built in Spain – the plan is to double annual sales to 100,000 units in the midterm, to claim a five percent market share by 2016. The production facilities in Spain are key to this expansion. Nearly three million vehicles have been built at Nissan plants in Barcelona and Avila since 1980. Today, the vast majority of Nissan’s LCV product line-up for Europe is built in Europe. Barcelona builds Navara and Pathfinder, NV200 and Primastar (which is also badged Renault Trafic and Opel Vivaro). Avila builds Atleon and Cabstar, while NV400 is produced for Nissan by Alliance partner, Renault, in France. In 2011, despite the current financial problems in Europe, production in Spain increased by almost 50,000 units to 154,492 vehicles, a rise of 47.6 percent over 2010. Production of NV200 rose by almost 67 percent year-on-year, while Primastar in its various guises

a new medium-duty truck, while, more recently, Barcelona was chosen as the home of the forthcoming zero-emission e-NV200 compact van. Due to enter production in the 2013 financial year, e-NV200’s arrival at Barcelona represents an investment by Nissan of more than €100 million in Spain, and underlines the growing competitiveness of the company’s industrial operation in the country. Barcelona will be the sole production facility for e-NV200 and the plant is expected to build around 20,000 units annually for global distribution. Nissan’s light commercial vehicle range spreads from the compact NV200 through to the 8,000 kg GVM Atleon, along the way covering pick-up trucks, combis, panel vans, box vans, tippers and dropside trucks, all in a vast array of sizes and capacities. The newest vehicle in the Nissan commercial vehicle fleet, NV400 has been in sale for less than a year. Developed in cooperation with Alliance partner, Renault, NV400 is available with front or rear-wheel drive, in four different lengths, three different heights, and with cargo volumes ranging from 8 to 17 m3 (vans) and 20 to 22 m3 (box conversion). There are three power options – all based on the Alliance 2.3-litre dCi fourcylinder diesel – along with a choice of manual and six-speed automated manual transmissions. Power outputs range from 100, through 125 to 150 hp (74, 92 and 107 kW respectively) with torque figures of 285, 310 and 350 Nm respectively. From a safety perspective, ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist are standard, with ESP standard for rear-wheel-drive and optional for front-wheel-drive, along with driver, passenger and side airbags. DELIVERY

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PROFILES

ALTERNATIVE

OPTIONS Isuzu trucks offer a range of solutions including alternative fuels for maximum efficiency

F

Fuel efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are both topics that are gaining greater significance with truck buyers. Isuzu Trucks offer operators the alternative of running their fleet on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and this is one option that is coming under closer scrutiny as organisations look towards a greener image for their future.

Victorian Freight Specialists (VFS) is a leading logistics supplier that has taken a major step towards lowering its carbon footprint by acquiring and operating an Isuzu NPR 300 CNG. The company chose the NPR 300 CNG because it delivers reduced exhaust emissions, eliminates the release of harmful particulates and is cheaper to run than other clean fuel options. The company is considering adding more CNGpowered trucks to its growing fleet. VFS owner and director, John Rowe, said that while adding the CNG truck to its fleet reduced the company’s own carbon footprint, purchasing clean-fuel-powered vehicles can help win business with customers whose own operations acknowledge environmental benchmarks and requirements.

VFS heads for a cleaner environment with CNG.

As VFS was a newcomer to CNGfuelled vehicles, Mr Rowe explained that the NPR 300 CNG – which has been fitted with a six-pallet tautliner and one-tonne tailgate lifter – was purchased as a trial to test the truck’s performance.

“This truck has a designated route, covering a daily round trip of approximately 200-220 kilometres with up to 50 deliveries in the hills of the Yarra Valley, Diamond Creek and Mernda,” Mr Rowe said. “After running this CNG truck, we have found that it provides sufficient power for its requirements.” Servicing not only Victoria, but parts of southern New South Wales, VFS began operating in 1998 as a small regional provider with a fleet of just two trucks. Now, the Isuzu NPR 300 CNG joins a fleet of 40 company vehicles, approximately 6080 sub-contractors, and over 140 staff completing overnight intrastate and metropolitan deliveries. The attraction of running CNG-fuelled vehicles is also something that proved appealing to Hobart City Council, with the recent addition of five new Isuzu NPR 300 CNG-powered trucks to its fleet in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We chose to purchase the Isuzu NPR 300 CNG because when we respond to a range of tenders for large corporations, it’s important to show that we are thinking about our environmental impact and reducing our carbon emissions – we must meet very strict environmental policies,” Mr Rowe said.

Two of the trucks feature standard tipper trays and another two feature versatile three-way tipper tray bodies. All four are used as service vehicles for Council maintenance tasks in and around suburban streets, gardens and parks. At first glance, the fifth vehicle looks like any other van-bodied Isuzu, however the body is designed to securely transport bins for document destruction of sensitive paper waste from Council and local businesses.

With the advent of the carbon tax, Australian businesses, especially those in the transport and freight sector, are coming under increasing pressure to reduce their carbon emissions.

Hobart City Council’s general manager, Nick Heath, says Council’s latest fleet acquisitions are well suited for urban use and ideal for return-to-base operations.

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ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS “The NPR 300 CNGs have proved to be exactly what the Hobart City Council needs. They have replaced equivalentsized diesel trucks from several other Japanese brands,” he said. CNG-powered vehicles show reductions of around 50 percent of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), 98 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and virtually zero PM (particulate matter) when compared to similarly-sized conventional diesel trucks. CNG engines also help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 25 percent compared to diesels. In total, it’s expected that the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by approximately 15 tonnes of CO2 per annum. From a fleet maintenance perspective, CNG fuel provides lower running costs due to more stable natural gas pricing and the ability to enter into a long-term contract with a local supplier. The Council estimates it can save around $5,000 per annum based on today’s diesel and CNG prices. Nick says the NPR 300 CNG model is full of great features, especially an automated manual transmission (AMT). “There is another feature we like, an idle/stop fuel saving system, which turns the engine off at idle once the transmission selector has been placed in neutral and the park brake engaged. Once the driver reselects drive, the engine automatically restarts,” he said. Refuelling of the CNG trucks is conveniently handled at a public refuelling depot with bowsers that tap directly into the natural gas pipe network. And, the filling process is just as fast as refuelling a conventional truck. As a participant of the Cities for Climate Protection Program, Nick says the Council actively seeks possible alternative fuels for usage within its vehicle fleet. Not every fleet has the option of refuelling at a convenient CNG outlet, and, in these situations, the efficiency of an Isuzu diesel engine is still the best solution.

Approximately one third of the nation’s fruit and vegetables are grown in Queensland, and family-owned business, Farmcraft, is a one-stop resource for those on the land. Aside from supplying agricultural products and equipment, the business runs regular information workshops for customers keen to keep up to date with the latest technology and seasonal changes. According to Farmcraft managing director, Alistair Ross, the business doesn’t just serve farmers and primary producers, but also provides a wide range of rural merchandise and farm supplies catering to both commercial and domestic customers. “We service dairy and beef cattle farmers, commercial crop producers, horse owners, lifestyle block owners and even household gardeners,” Mr Ross said. To deliver the wide variety of supplies, Farmcraft relies on a fleet of Isuzu trucks, consisting of two NPR 200s, three FTR 900s and one FVZ 1400. The trucks are on the road on a daily basis, covering ground from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, and Moreton Bay to the Southern Darling Downs. “It’s extremely important to us that our trucks have the most up-to-date technology and meet the latest environmental standards. We are passionate about reducing our carbon footprint, and the advanced technology in our Isuzu trucks assists us in doing so,” said Mr. Ross. Since it began operation in 1990 as a hardware business, Farmcraft has expanded not only in product offering but also in location. Originally operating from one site in Kalbar, Farmcraft now runs four sites across the state. From agriculture, to a totally different operational requirement, where the devastating impact of the abduction and murder of a couple’s son has formed the background to a positive action by the Daniel Morcombe Charity Hobart City Council shows its clean credentials.

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Delivery Magazine Issue 45