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The van makers step up a gear with spr ing launches

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES - The commercial vehicle customer will be spoilt for choice in April when the major manufacturers come to Birmingham for the CV Show (April 25-27) and Interbuild (23-27). Construction News gives a guide to what's new

FORD

The UK's best-known commercial vehicle, the Ford Transit, is relaunched at this year's CV Show with a new look, improved driving environment and a choice of six new diesel engines.

Still the most popular van in its class (Ford says the Transit outsold its nearest rival by almost three to one last year), the Transit has been extensively redesigned inside and out.

A completely new dashboard gives a clear view of all instruments, while the gearstick has been moved up to the dashboard to give a more car-like driving position and to create some clear space between the front seats for walk-through access.

The new TDCi diesel engines are the first dedicated commercial vehicle power units to be developed as part of the partnership between Ford Motor Company and PSA Peugeot Citroen and will be built at Ford's Dagenham Diesel Centre.

The new Transit range will offer six diesel engines and one LPG-compatible petrol engine. The diesel options include new 2.2 litre and 2.4 litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engines, matched with either five-speed or six-speed Durashift manual transmissions.

Vehicle safety and security are improved with a choice of two alarm systems, including Thatcham Category 1. The new Transit also features a Passive Anti-Theft System, hood lock, cablef ree doors and what Ford says is the industry's first configurable unlocking security system.

This system allows customers to choose which doors unlock in which order when selected buttons are pressed. There are three combinations to choose from.

Safety features include anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution, brake traction control system and an electronic stability program.

A driver's airbag is standard while seat-mounted side, head and thorax airbags are available as options. Ford says the van's redesigned front end also improves low-speed impact resistance.

CV Show stand 4411, 4511 Interbuild stand 20-P11

ISUZU

Isuzu's new N-series lightweight truck is the first 7.5-tonner in the UK to have a semiautomatic gearbox as standard equipment.

The company describes its NEES 2 Easyshift transmission as 'a manual gearbox that thinks it's an automatic'. The N-series has already won over several distribution companies and building firms, says Isuzu , and several of its customers' vehicles will be appearing on the Isuzu stand at this year's CV Show.

Easyshift is a standard feature on both the Isuzu NQR 7.5 tonne and NQR 6.2 tonne chassis cab models, although a conventional six-speed manual gearbox remains available as an option.

Keith Child, sales and marketing director at Isuzu Truck UK, says the Easyshift box is a big favourite with drivers and operators. 'It's going down really well with local distribution companies as well as other sectors, including construction, ' he says.

Less expensive than a traditional automatic transmission, the Easyshift gives better fuel consumption and is easy to use.

CV Show stand 4369, 5331

IVECO

Iveco is showing four of its popular Daily 3.5-tonne vehicles at next month's CV Show. These include a Daily 35S14 15 cu m van and a Daily 35C14 chassis cab, featuring the latest Titan tipper body. Iveco claims to control nearly 10 per cent of the 3.5 tonne market sector in the UK, having increased its volume share by 6 per cent last year.

Joining these two models will be a Daily 65C17 chassis cab powered by a 3.0 litre HPT engine developing 166 bhp and an ambulance using the same chassis and engine.

Representing the larger vehicles will be Iveco's Eurocargo line-up, which can be supplied in over 3,000 possible conf igu rat ions in 7.5 and 18 tonne gvw.

Two Stralis tractor units will also be on display, including an Active Space and an Active Time model. Both are f itted with Iveco's 12-speed EuroTronic gearbox.

Also on show will be a Trakker 8x4 rigid with a spacious and comfortable day cab.

CV show stand 5411 Interbuild stand 20-Q21

MERCEDES-BENZ

Mercedes-Benz Vans is appearing at both the CV Show and at Interbuild 2006, where there will be an opportunity to see a representative selection of the company's products.

The Mercedes Vito (voted 2005 International Van of the Year) will be represented on the stand by three different models: a 120CDI Dualiner with all new V6 CDI engine ? its first UK appearance ? a 111CDI Compact van, and a 111CDI Long van with high roof option.

The Vito panel van is claimed to be one of the most spacious in its class, with a load volume of 4.65 cu m in the compact version and up to 6.49 cu m in the extra-long van.

The Dualiner offers various seating options for up to six people in two rows of seats with plenty of load space (up to 4.24 cu m) at the back.

A variety of optional extras (such as climate control and a satellite navigation system) are available for all models.

Interbuild Stand 20-N20, P21

NISSAN

Nissan's new Kubistar is making its first appearance at this year's CV Show. Offering a load space of 2.75 to 3 cu m (with the passenger seat folded) the compact Kubistar offers a variety of access opt ions, such as single or double sliding doors, and an internal bulkhead to separate the load area from the seating area.

The Kubistar will be joined by other vehicles f rom Nissan's range of light commercials. These include the Primastar and Interstar vans, the Cabstar light truck and the popular Nissan 4 x 4s such as the Terrano and Navara pickups.

Nissan claims to have one of the indust ry's widest line-ups of light commercial vehicles with over 51 different versions available.

CV Show stand 4241

RENAULT

Renault Vans is using the CV Show to demonstrate the depth and breadth of its range and emphasise its claim to be Europe's top maker of light commercial vehicles.

The company has 11 products on display, including the popular Clio and Kangoo Vans and panel van versions of their larger siblings, the Trafic and Master. Two models from the recently launched commercial passenger vehicle range and two conversions will also appear.

Visitors to the CV Show will be the first in the UK to see the new Master 16-seat CPV. The Trafic nine-seater will also be featured. Of more direct interest to the const ruct ion sector, perhaps, will be two off-the-shelf conversions of the Renault Master, the Luton van and double cab tipper.

Attractive though all these vans are, it's odds-on that the biggest crowds will be found around the smallest vehicle on the Renault stand: the new R26 racing car from the Renault F1 team. Just don't ask for a test drive.

CV Show stand 4465, 3251

SCANIA

Famous for its heavy trucks, Scania is giving pride of place on its stand at this year's CV Show to the R 620 LA6x2/4MNA tractor unit, which is powered by the Swedish firm's new 620hp 16 litre V8 engine.

This twin-steer tractor unit has a Scania Topline Luxury cab, which includes leather seats. The latest version of Scania's Interactor 600 f leet management system will also be on display in this truck.

Also on show will be a Highline-cabbed 470 hp twin-steer tractor unit, which features a Scania Opticruise gear-selection system. This vehicle is also equipped with the Interactor 300 f leet management system featuring on-board messaging, vehicle positioning/tracking and driver tools, such as a moving map display and optional voice navigation.

With its CP19 sleeper cab, the P270 DB6x2 4MNA offers high levels of d r iver comfor t and safety, says Scania. The three-axle truck is designed for 26 tonnes gvw operation and has a steering rear axle for maximum manoeuvrability, making it particularly well suited to applications requiring access to restricted areas. The show truck is equipped with a Scania Interactor 100 f leet management system.

CV Show stand 2451, 2471

VAUXHALL

Vauxhall is promising to unveil a major new vehicle at this year's CV Show, although at the time of going to press it was keeping tight-lipped about what exactly it is. The only hint it gave was that this new model will be 'the most significant new commercial vehicle since the Vivaro'.

It is fairly certain that the new vehicle is not a replacement for the Vivaro, an example of which will be on display in a new drop-side configuration.

Joining this will be some other new versions of old favourites, including the Combo van in a new five-seat crewcab version with sliding rear door and bench seats in the back.

Vauxhall is also launching at tipper version of its fast-selling Movano panel van.

Also on show will be Vauxhall's new Tecshift clutchless gearbox, first seen on the Movano last year. Th is unit is said to deliver up to 8 per cent better fuel consumption when coupled with the company's 2.5 litre CDTi diesel engine.

The Tecshift box can be switched from manual to automatic mode and vice versa, depending on the road, load and driving conditions.

CV Show stand 5321

VOLKSWAGEN

Volkswagen is launching the replacement for its popular LT model at the CV Show.

Dubbed the Volkswagen Crafter, this vehicle completes VW's renewal of its entire light commercial range (a process that began with the new Transporter in 2003 closely followed by the new Caddy). The new models have helped Volkswagen increase its UK commercial veh icle sales by 41 per cent since 2002.

The Crafter can be supplied with one of four versions of Volkswagen's five-cylinder TDI engine with power outputs from 89 hp to 164 hp. It has a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. An automatic transmission will be optional. Braking and cornering are both superior to the old LT, says VW, with the Crafter equipped with ESP and ABS as standard.

Also standard on the Crafter is a driver's airbag, while front passenger, curtain and side airbags are available as options. All models have remote central locking and electric windows.

A choice of three wheelbases, four load compartment lengths and three roof heights make the Crafter a versatile vehicle. It has a maximum load capacity of 17 cu m and the five-tonne panel van variant can transport a weight of more than 2,670 kg.

There is ample width inside the vehicle for two Euro pallets to stand next to each other and the medium/ long wheelbase versions have a 1.3 m-wide, 1.8 mhigh loading aperture accessed via a sliding side door.

The new Crafter goes on sale in the UK during September 2006.

CV Show stand 4431 Interbuild stand 20-Q11

VOLVO

Volvo Trucks is taking three stands at the CV Show to highlight three distinct services: new trucks, used trucks and parts and servicing.

Among the new vehicles on show is the new Volvo FH16, heralded as Europe's most powerful production truck.

Visitors will see an FH16 tractor unit with a 580 hp engine on a 6 x 2 chassis fitted with Volvo's Globetrotter X L cabin 'Prestige' trim with full leather interior, automatic 12 speed I-Shift gearbox, and EBS braking system.

A top-of-the-range 660 hp FH16 will also form the centrepiece of Volvo's external exhibit outside the entrance to the show.

Another new vehicle display will be an FM 6x2 rearsteer rigid chassis with a Globetrotter single-bunked cab with 'Comfort' trim, I-Shift automated manual gearbox and a Euro 4-compliant 340 hp D13A engine.

The new FH and FM trucks were launched in January and the first units are now being delivered.

The stand will also display the D13A engine, the latest I-Shift automated gearbox and selective catalytic reduction technology, demonstrations of Volvo's latest Dynaf leet products and a hospitality area.

Volvo is promoting its new Selected Used Trucks service on a separate stand where two used trucks will be on display.

The company's 'commercial aftermarket' stand will feature Roadcrew, Volvo's convenient 'one-stop' parts supplier.

CV Show stand 5118