MARKET leader Ford was out in force showing off a range of commercial vehicles – but the star of its show is still on the drawing board.
Ford announced at a press conference on the eve of the show that it would be launching a new Fiesta van in the fourth quarter of the year. Few details were available but the new model will have a payload of 400kg, loadspace of one cubic metre and both common rail TDCi diesel and petrol engines.
Both the Escort van and Courier were ditched when the new Transit Connect was launched late last year and Ford believes with the new Fiesta it now has a full range of vehicles to suit all fleet needs.
Asked if there were any plans for a Focus van, Ford director of CV marketing Jon Fisher said: 'None at all. The Fiesta van is a significant launch for us and we will then have a fully functional line-up.'
Among the new variants on Ford's stand was a Transit double-cab-in-van with a second row of seats for fleets which need to transport both goods and crew, a London congestion charge- busting LPG Transit, an interesting T-body Ford Ranger with a range of secure storage units and a LWB Transit mobile messing unit converted by Jarvis. It comes complete with toilet, washing and kitchen facilities.
Show star under wraps
WITH the British van maker celebrating its tenth anniversary in April, LDV was keeping its new model under wraps – partially.
While Pilot and Convoy models in various guises graced the front part of the stand, the rear was taken up by a large army truck carrying a new light van under camouflage as a tempting teaser for the visitors.
Asked when the wraps would be coming off, LDV sales director Tony Lewis replied: 'Not at this show. Many people were beginning to think that a brand new LDV van was a mythical beast so we thought it ought to finally break cover. But the official launch will coincide with our tenth birthday.'
Through the netting, visitors were able to glimpse an elegant light van the size of a Renault Trafic, with smart alloy wheels and metallic paint. Little other detail was visible.
The van is a result of LDV's old link-up with Daewoo, which fell flat when the Korean company foundered and was taken over by General Motors. It is understood LDV will own all the rights to the new model.
New green models for Iveco and Mercedes
IVECO is nailing its green colours to the mast with a new CNG variant of the Daily. While most other manufacturers are taking the LPG route, Iveco believes compressed natural gas is the greenest fuel.
A spokesman said: 'This new van is manufactured in-house and taps into a plentiful alternative energy source while LPG is obtained by refining crude oil.'
The new model is not a dual-fuel vehicle and runs purely on CNG. At its heart is a 2.8-litre diesel engine fitted with spark plugs, offering maximum power of 104bhp at 3,800rpm and torque of 162lb-ft at 2,200rpm. The CNG tanks are mounted under the chassis and models available vary from 3.5 to 5.2 tonnes gross vehicle weight. Chassis cab models increase to 6.5 tonnes gvw. Iveco believes fuel bill savings of up to 27% are possible.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz was showing off its green credentials too with a Sprinter offering either LPG or CNG. The green models are available in van or chassis cab versions with gross vehicle weights of between 2.6 and 4.6 tonnes.
A spokesman said: 'These vans are built at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Germany. This is a crucial point since it means that unlike most aftermarket conversions, they come with a full warranty backed by the manufacturer.
Fiat sharpens the focus on fleet van sales
WITH a fresh line-up of vans on offer, Fiat is renewing its efforts in the LCV marketplace by sharpening up its dealer network.
The UK is now serviced by a total of 50 specialist van dealers, while at Fiat headquarters, a team of fleet sales specialists is on hand. Paul Knowlson, Fiat national fleet CV manager, said: 'We have a stunning line-up of vans on offer and we need to support these models with the right infrastructure. The 50 dealers each have a dedicated display area with all the models on show and there will be dedicated trained staff on hand t deal with enquiries.'
While these dealers will handle small fleet deals, a fleet sales team under CV director Kevin Henderson will be dealing with the bigger fleet orders.
Nissan flexes its muscles
NISSAN showed off its latest muscle machine, the Navara Outlaw, at the show.
Powered by a 134bhp 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine, the Outlaw comes complete with roof tubes, satin-effect centre console, loadbay styling bar, chrome side steps, electronic climate control and CD player. Price is £16,850 ex-VAT.
Isuzu set for hard graft
ISUZU has aptly named its new truck Grafter, as it is built to work hard. The Grafter was launched at the show in three specifications – tipper body with single or twin rear wheels and dropside body with single wheels. Gross vehicle weight is 3.5 tonnes.
The Grafter is powered by a 3.0-litre 130bhp turbodiesel engine and standard equipment includes power steering. Optional extras include CD player, satellite navigation and a reversing alarm. Also new is Isuzu's Foresite finance package, giving fleets the chance to buy the truck for as little as £49.69 a week. The deal is available over three or four years, after which the buyer can keep the vehicle, trade it in or return it to the maker.
Disposal tips for fleets
DISPOSAL experts at Manheim Auctions were on hand at the show to guide fleet decision-makers through the tricky process of selling vans. Manheim group commercial vehicle manager Alex Wright hosted regular presentations throughout the three days, providing an insight into achieving maximum values. Sessions covered issues such as how refurbishment can affect values.
Sortimo books ahead
Following the successful launch of its Sortimo Solutions 'working with new' package at the show, the company says it is already booking up for next year's event. Sortimo's new service helps the company and its partners Norflex and PHVC come up with customised van racking and supporting systems for operators.