Iveco director Nigel Emms underlines that the last eighteen months have been tough for everyone, right across the business spectrum. “But construction nosedived quicker than almost any other sector as the recession hit, and faces even more challenges as we crawl out of recession,” he says.
“We are continuing to focus principally on rigids. Some operators are moving to artics to give them greater load volumes and capacities, especially as construction sites become firmer, safer and better managed. But the reality is that construction remains the preserve of the rigid, and within that, we include anything from the 3.5 tonne tipper or mini-skip, right the way up to 7.5 tonners and 18 tonners, six wheelers and eight wheelers.”
And now Iveco has something new on its books in the shape of the EcoDaily. With this launch, the Italian based firm has produced something that it believes will appeal to the environmentally conscious, with vehicles in the UK spanning the 3.5 to 7 tonne market (previously 3.5 to 6.5 tonnes).
What this boils down to is that EcoDaily engines are both Euro 5 and EEV compliant. But while sustainability is critical in today’s construction industry, performance is still key to whether a working vehicle will sell. So CN went to a Portland Bill quarry to put the EcoDaily through its paces in a rugged environment.
First impressions were good with a comfortable cab and smooth feel to the manual gearbox as well as from the optional six-speed AGile automated transmission, fitted to the test model. This can be used in either automatic or sequential mode. Iveco says the AGile gearbox features revised control software which allows driver initiated down-shifting that Iveco says maximises engine brake performance and the anticipation of traffic conditions, without exiting from the fully automatic mode.
It also analyses the pressure being placed on the accelerator pedal and adapts its response to the driver’s style of driving.
However, readers are advised against trying to use it on more rapidly changing inclines such as those found in the off-road testing area of the quarry. This tester found it became confused between gears, resulting in a loss of drive. A simple lesson learned then, and not a far reaching problem considering there are far more suitable options with the sequential or manual modes.
Off-road performance was solid, with its rear wheel drive tackling challenging gradients and providing controlled and largely unfazed climbing and descent traction.
While the EcoDaily is set to compete with the likes of the Ford Transit, Iveco must work hard to entice the man-and-van operatives away further from high-street Ford dealerships, and onto their sometimes more out-of-town showrooms. However readers may want to compare before they set out by checking full specifications at: www.ivecodaily.co.uk/daily_range.htm and http://www.fordtransitdirect.co.uk/newsales/newvans/transit/technicalspec.aspx