Vauxhall’s new Combo van breaks cover

Vauxhall’s all-new Combo panel van is set to become a firm favourite of owner-drivers and large fleets alike with its combination of state-of-the-art technology and class-leading features.

Available in two wheelbases, two heights, two gross vehicle weights (2,000kg and 2,300kg) two trim levels and with four engine choices, Combo boasts the highest payload (up to 1,000kg with driver), large load volume (up to 4.2m3), highest rear axle capacity (1,450kg) and longest wheelbase in its sector.

New standards in commercial vehicle exterior design

New Combo’s steeply raked deep windscreen, together with the low bonnet line, gives the driver exceptional visibility. Generous panoramic exterior mirrors with integrated indicator repeaters provide outstanding rearward vision. The clear glass wrap-around headlight clusters are functional and efficient, the rear light clusters are high mounted to avoid incidental damage, and the optional front fog lights are protectively recessed.

Exceptional loading possibilities

New Combo has been designed as a commercial vehicle without compromise and the overall exterior style reflects its rugged and practical nature.

Two lengths (4.39m and 4.74m) combined with two heights (1.85m and 2.10m) offer exceptional loading possibilities. With the L1 the load volume is 3,400 litres whereas the L2 packs in 4,200 litres with load lengths of 1.82m (L1) and 2.17m (L2) and the load width of 1.71m. New Combo offers a choice of two payloads: 750kg and 1,000kg.

Conveniently low loading height (54.5cm) combined with wide opening sliding side doors enable easier loading and convenient access to cargo. An optional upward opening flap built into the rear of the roof of new Combo L1H1 models enable the secure transport of longer loads such as ladders and pipes.

Economical and powerful engines

The new Combo is available with four diesel engines. The units include a 1.3 CDTi and a 1.6 CDTi, each with 90PS, as well as a 1.6 CDTi variant with 105PS and a powerful 2.0 CDTi engine providing 135PS. The 1.3 CDTi engines are fitted with five-speed manual transmissions, while the more powerful CDTi units have a six-speed manual transmission. The 1.6 CDTi is also offered with Vauxhall’s ‘Tecshift’ automated five-speed manual transmission. With the exception of the Tecshift units, all powertrains are available with Start/Stop functionality to deliver even lower fuel consumption and emissions.

Interior design features

Driver comfort and convenience are prioritised in new Combo. The stylish dashboard is functional and uncluttered, the steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach and all of the controls are intuitive and within easy grasp. There are deeply contoured front seats, and generous heating and ventilation outlets. Attention has been given to building an environment that is ergonomic, robust and hard-wearing.

In terms of convenience and storage new Combo leads the field with spacious door pockets, dashboard storage and a lockable glove box that can hold a laptop. The Sportive also features an overhead storage shelf in the cabin for additional storage capacity. Standard seat trim is cube black cloth with vinyl black available as a free-of-charge option.

Two trim levels with a Combo Sportive available for the first time

Standard equipment has been much improved over the outgoing model with a raft of equipment including remote central door locking with deadlocks, full-steel bulkhead, trip computer, electric power steering, driver’s airbag, ABS with EBD, CD/radio and a 12 volt power outlet in the dashboard.

New Combo introduces a Sportive trim level for the first time. These models combine added driver comfort with a uniquely sporty style that is consistent with other Sportive models on Corsavan, Astravan and Vivaro. Sportive will have these additional features over the standard model including air conditioning, metallic paint, body-colour bumpers and door mirrors, nearside sliding door, driver seat with height adjustment, armrest and lumbar support and full wheel covers.

A variety of options to ease the working day

New Combo offers a wide breadth of options and option packs enabling customers to tailor and personalise to best suit their business needs. Free flow options include cruise control, rear parking distance sensors, automatic climate control and ESP with hill holder.

Front passenger’s airbag and/or side-impact airbags, glazed rear doors or tailgate, longitudinal roof bars and winter tyres are also available.

A choice of three option packs are also available. Load compartment pack includes overhead storage shelf in the cabin, PVC lining for the loading compartment floor, rear auxiliary power outlet and a removable courtesy light. Winter pack consists of headlamp wash, fog lights, external temperature sensor and electric adjustable door mirrors. Driver pack includes CD50 multimedia reader (Bluetooth/USB/MP3), steering column mounted audio controls and leather steering wheel and gear knob.

Combo: A tried and trusted name in compact commercial vehicle segment

Order banks for new Combo are open now with the first vehicles due for delivery from February 2012. Prices start at £14,703.33 on the road (excluding VAT) for the L1H1 2000 1.3CDTI 16v (90PS) model.

Vauxhall has offered a Combo model line since 1996 and the current generation has been on the market since 2001. Even as it nears the end of its lifecycle, the Combo is still a popular choice for both small businesses and fleets, and has all-time sales of nearly 200,000 units.

“We’re looking forward to bringing the all-new Combo to market in 2012,” said Steve Bryant, Brand Manager, Vauxhall Commercial Vehicles. “Combo has been a lynchpin of our van offering for the last 15 years, earning a long list of accolades, ranging from excellent placings in the ‘International Van of the Year’ award to numerous honours from industry heavyweights such as What Van?, Van Fleet World and GreenFleet.”

Free webinar on Business Growth Fund

CV owners and operators could benefit from a £2m to £10m investment thanks to the recently established Business Growth Fund (BGF). SMMT will hold a webinar on Friday 11 November (14:30 – 15:00) during which, Stephen Welton, BGF Chief Executive will describe what the Fund is looking for in an investee company, with particular emphasis on the automotive sector. The Business Growth Fund is available to SME companies with approximate annual turnover of £5m to £100m. For more information and to register for free go to the BGF webinar page of the SMMT website.
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First Don-Bur “High Volume Trailer” Goes On The Road For Wincanton

Yesterday marked the official announcement from the DfT to permit controlled trials of High Volume Trailers (HVT’s) and Wincanton has been working closely with Don-Bur to design and manufacture its first 15.65m long Teardrop pillarless tri-axle in readiness for the VSO (Vehicle Special Orders). The new 2.05m longer trailer benefits from an average 15% additional load capacity, or four extra pallets; a feature that will significantly increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption and harmful CO2 emissions as a result of fewer deliveries.

The DfT’s research says that by 2015, the trial of HVT’s is predicted to “reduce lorry miles by 100 – 180 million per year”, meaning reduced congestion, reduced air pollution and reduced carbon emissions (by around 100,000 tonnes a year reduction).

The new aerodynamically designed HVT benefits from a similar effective wheelbase to that of a standard 13.7m long trailer, offering drivers a familiar sense of manoeuvrability. To cater for the extended load distribution, the Daimler Chrysler axles have been configured with a greater spread and the rear steer ‘self-tracking’ axle will all but eliminate wheel scrub. In addition, the introduction of Knorr-Bremse’s “iCorner” system lifts the front axle at lower speeds which reduces the effective wheelbase and enables tighter cornering.

A key part of the bespoke design was to limit the increase in unladen trailer weight, as the current maximum 44T GVW will not be increased and potential payload cannot be compromised. The weight increase caused by an extension in length and the addition of a steer axle has been heavily offset by using stronger yield steel and clever use of lightweight components.

Wincanton’s first HVT will be one of 900 2.05m longer trailers trialled in the UK for a period up to 10 years.

Welcoming the DfT announcement Dave Rowlands, technical director at Wincanton, said: “Longer semi-trailers will be integrated into Wincanton’s fleet almost immediately as a key element of our sustainable transport strategy and our commitment to reduce our impact on the environment. “Not only will the introduction of longer trailers drastically reduce the amount of CO2 into the environment, it will also ease congestion on UK roads, improve productivity by some 15 per cent and reduce crippling fuel costs which, in turn, can help us limit our customers’ exposure to rising costs.”

David Burton, managing director at Don-Bur added: “We were always keen to be at the forefront when the trials were announced and our partnership with Wincanton offered us an excellent opportunity to showcase our abilities.”

New Fiat Ducato – 30 years in the making

One of Europe’s most popular commercial vehicles has just become even more attractive. After three decades and five generations, the new Fiat Ducato goes on sale in October 2011.

With an extended range of completely new engines, the latest Ducato is cheaper to run than the model it replaces. A new interior gives it a much more car-like cockpit while retaining the Ducato’s trademark functionality. And with more versions than ever before, Fiat is offering the commercial vehicle buyer huge variety.

The three power outputs from the previous Ducato’s three engines will be replaced by four outputs from two engine capacities on the new model. With a range of 110, 130, 148 and 177bhp engines, buyers have the opportunity to specify one that’s exactly suited to their requirements.

Whichever engine they choose it’ll benefit from Fiat’s latest MultiJet technology and comply with strict Euro 5 emissions legislation. It’s also more powerful than the engine it replaces and more economical, produces fewer CO2 emissions and has longer service intervals.

The new Ducato’s upgraded interior employs the sort of high quality materials that up until now have been alien to the commercial vehicle sector. New seats mean it’s comfier while a complete re-design of the dash makes it more stylish to look at.

With this new sense of panache comes improved practicality. The re-designed dashboard now has a slot to accommodate the Blue&Me TomTom LIVE satellite navigation unit. The integrated radio/CD and MP3 player not only looks smart but can accommodate the latest generation of Blue&Me. Vehicles specified with Blue&Me can also have eco:Drive Professional, a version of Fiat’s award-winning eco:Drive Fleet. This lets drivers and fleet managers monitor how vehicles are being driven and alter habits accordingly to improve economy and lower costs.

There will be eight different capacities of van ranging from eight to 17 m3. But the Ducato isn’t just a van. The various lengths and Gross Vehicle Weights of the chassis combined with the new engines give converters an enormous choice of base vehicle for anything from a minibus to a motorhome or even a flatbed truck.

When sales are combined with its stablemates from PSA, the Fiat Ducato was the best-selling commercial vehicle in its segment in Europe last year.

The latest Ducato benefits from a significant improvement in engine performance. The new power units make it cleaner, cheaper to run and more economical than the model it replaces. And the engines, which are all Euro 5 emissions compliant, offer a choice of four power outputs enabling buyers to choose the unit best suited to their budget and business.

Available with a capacity of either 2.3 or 3-litre, these engines use the latest generation of Fiat Powertrain Technology’s MultiJet to achieve better economy and carbon dioxide emissions than their already impressive predecessors. But saving money at the pumps isn’t their only benefit. They have longer service intervals so the vehicle spends more time on the road earning its keep and less time in the garage. They’re also relatively light in weight enabling commercial vehicles to carry heavier loads without having an impact on overall tonnage.

All engines have four cylinders in line, with four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshafts. The 2.3-litre engines have the latest MultiJet II technology that employs faster injectors with a new servo valve and balanced shutter allowing them to operate at 1800 bar of pressure compared to the 1600 bar of the previous generation. These new injectors allow faster, more flexible and therefore precise injection strategies including Injection Rate Shaping where two consecutive injections come so close together that there is a continuous, modulated flow of fuel into the cylinders. This improves the combustion process, making it quieter with reduced particulate and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions.

The previous Ducato’s entry level 2.2-litre 100bhp engine is replaced by an 110bhp 2.3-litre. The new unit features an aluminium alloy cylinder head on a cast iron block and uses a fixed geometry turbocharger with an intercooler.

Compared to the engine it replaces, the 110bhp unit is 10 per cent more powerful, and with 300Nm, has 20 per cent more torque, yet is 10 per cent more economical and has 11 per cent less emissions. Perhaps more crucially for business users, the improved economy means the range between fuel stops has been increased while service intervals have also been lengthened from 25,000 to 30,000 miles. So the latest Ducato will spend more time on the road earning its keep, and less time stationary at the pumps or in the garage.

The 130bhp version of the 2.3-litre generates a healthy 320Nm of torque at just 1800rpm making it flexible in traffic and responsive even when the vehicle is heavily laden. Compared with its predecessor it has eight per cent more power, ensuring it’s relaxing for longer journeys, yet emissions and consumption are down by nine per cent.

The engine is characterised by details designed to make it as efficient as possible. The turbocharger’s wastegate valve enables the gradual outflow of some exhaust gases at more than 2200rpm, optimising torque delivery throughout the rev range and making the vehicle easier to drive. The glow plugs are located inside the combustion chamber to reduce cranking and pre-heating time, and to limit the stress put on the engine when starting from cold in low external temperatures.

The Exhaust Gas Recirculation valve helps reduce emissions sufficiently for the Ducato to meet strict Euro 5 legislation. The gases are cooled using a heat exchanger before being re-injected into the combustion chamber and the system is now electronically rather than pneumatically controlled for more accurate measurement.

The 150 MultiJet II version achieves its power boost courtesy of a variable geometry turbocharger. This makes the 2.3-litre engine a viable alternative to the previous generation 3-litre. Power is 148bhp and it’s only six per cent lower than the much bigger engine, yet maximum torque is a healthy 350Nm at 1500rpm while consumption is reduced by 19 per cent, CO2 emissions by 20 per cent and weight by 40kg.

The most powerful engine in the Ducato range is the 3-litre 180 MultiJet Power unit. This appropriately named MultiJet Power engine achieves its maximum output of 177bhp at 3500rpm and is 13 per cent more powerful than the engine it replaces, making it the best-performing four-cylinder diesel engine in its class. It has the same 400Nm of torque as its predecessor but it’s available from 1400rpm instead of 1700.

This high performance doesn’t come at the expense of either economy or comfort. The early availability of maximum torque makes it a relaxed travelling companion no matter what weight it’s carrying. And consumption is nine per cent better than the engine it replaces.

As with the Ducato’s other engines, service intervals have been increased to 30,000 miles and the timing chain has been designed to last the life of the vehicle. Like the 2.3-litre, the glow plugs are located inside the combustion chamber and the engine has a cast iron block with integrated bearings and a dual-mass fly wheel that softens engine vibrations and greatly reduces noise.

Each engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox while the 3-litre can be specified with the six-speed Comfort-Matic Manual Transmission Automated. This is a traditional manual transmission except there is no clutch pedal and the manual linkage to the gearbox is replaced by actuators controlled by a Transmission Control Unit. The shift is either performed automatically or the driver can use the gear lever to prompt changes by pulling backwards or pushing forwards.

Fiat has given the interior of the new Ducato a thorough overhaul. Understanding that for many owners the cockpit of a van is an office as well as a driving environment, its existing attributes of comfort and functionality have been improved during the makeover.

The dashboard design has the kind of car-like quality and style that’s never been seen before in a commercial vehicle. It features an integrated radio/CD player with MP3 compatibility as standard and glossy black surfaces surrounding it. These combine with chrome effect plastic that makes elements such as the air vents, gear stick and ventilation controls stand out.

The controls for the sound system are mounted high up on the dashboard so they can be easily reached by the driver and passengers and there are buttons on the steering wheel. The system features the Radio Data System (RDS), Traffic Announcements (TA), and PTY which allows the device to select a specific genre of music automatically. The volume adjusts according to speed, sound settings can be customised using one of seven equaliser bands, and the radio can store up to 30 stations.

Blue&Me TomTom LIVE
The sound system can be controlled hands free using the optional Blue&Me. It can also be connected to Bluetooth devices, an MP3 player and even a text reader. The intuitive Blue&Me user interface allows drivers to connect their mobile phones and MP3 players and control them and the sound system using either steering wheel or voice controls.

Usability is further improved thanks to new hardware. This enables better noise filtration and therefore voice reproduction, ensures full compatibility with Apple products, full playback of iTunes files and minimum indexing time so music will start immediately after connecting an iPod.

The upper central part of the dashboard has been redesigned to create space for the TomTom ‘my port’. With this specified, Ducato owners can then order the Blue&Me TomTom LIVE satellite navigation system.

This is the result of a collaboration between Fiat and TomTom, Europe’s leader in portable navigation devices. It’s based on the popular TomTom Go1000 and sits in a purpose-built cradle that slots into the dashboard. This ensures the device is always fully charged when in the car but means it can also be removed for security reasons or for the driver to use it away from the vehicle.

The TomTom LIVE is controlled with a practical touch screen that allows the driver to use the satellite navigation, sound system and access traffic information which provides real-time updates on traffic jams and road closures.

eco:Drive Professional
Fiat’s award-winning eco:Drive and its application for commercial vehicle drivers, eco:Drive Professional, are available on any vehicle fitted with Blue&Me and help drivers learn to use less fuel, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and saving up to 15 per cent in running costs.

Drivers download eco:Drive to their computer. Then plugging any USB stick into the Blue&Me port allows acceleration, deceleration, gearshift and speed information to be saved onto it automatically. When the USB is plugged back into a computer, eco:Drive converts the data into facts and figures such as mileage, CO2 emissions and money saved.

A development of this is eco:Drive Fleet which allows fleet managers to monitor all the data from the vehicles they supervise via an on-line dashboard. It automatically updates the database with management costs and the mileage count for maintenance intervals. As well as enabling fleet managers to reward efficient drivers, it allows them to see how well their fleet is performing according to an overall eco:Index.

Eco:Drive Professional builds on this further by allowing commercial vehicle drivers to enter various parameters such as the load they’re carrying and the frontal area of the vehicle. The software allows the driver or fleet manager to analyse the impact of the load on the vehicle’s efficiency and suggests the most appropriate behaviour to get the best economy.

New interior
In addition to this new technology, basic practicality remains one of the core attributes of the Ducato’s cab. The glove box gets a new lid with a sturdier lock on it. There’s a clipboard to stop those important bits of paper getting lost; the central compartment is big enough to store a lap top computer; and it can be locked with a key. The refrigerated compartment will hold a 1.5-litre bottle and the drinks holder can also be used to take a mobile phone or ashtray.

The door panels have been remodelled to bring them in line with the rest of the cabin but they retain the practical bottle holder, a place to store the optional Fix&Go tyre repair kit and the mid-height pockets for smaller easy-to-lose objects.

The oval instrument panel, now sitting beneath a more pronounced anti-glare hood, has been redesigned to make it even easier to read. And there’s a Gear Shift Indicator available in combination with Start&Stop to tell drivers the most efficient point to change gear.

Driver comfort is a core feature of the new Ducato. Excellent noise insulation puts it top of the class for quietness thanks to the sort of refinement you’d expect in a medium category car, and a great deal of care has been taken over the seats. These are covered in a new red fabric, have a more luxurious head restraint and the driver’s seat can be adjusted six ways, including up and down. Combined with an adjustable steering wheel and a movable arm rest, these allow drivers of all shapes and sizes to find a comfortable position at the wheel. Climate comfort is assured by manual or automatic air conditioning systems, an additional unit for the rear on passenger versions, all available as an option. In addition to these, a windscreen with reflective glass to keep the heat of the sun at bay is available as an option.

For passengers there’s a choice of a standard two-seat bench featuring a central backrest that can be folded down to make a table if required, or an optional single seat. Both driver’s and passenger’s seats feature handy storage compartments beneath. And all front seats have seatbelts with pre-tensioners and a head restraint.

The full-size two-phase driver’s airbag is standard; those at the side, over the windows and for passengers are an option. The ABS anti-lock braking is also standard and works in conjunction with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. This uses sensors to ensure the braking action is divided over all four wheels to prevent locking and guarantee maximum stopping power. The braking system employs discs all round, with those at the front ventilated for consistently high performance.

The Fiat Ducato has always been a byword for versatility and the new model is no different, with more versions than ever before now available. This diverse range means there will be around 2000 chassis/engine/mechanical variations which will allow for a huge range of vans, minibuses and conversions.

There are two basic mechanical architectures allowing Gross Vehicle Weights (GVW) between three and four tonnes. On 15-inch wheels, the GVW is three, 3.3 or 3.5 tonnes, while on 16-inch wheels the GVW is 3.5 to four tonnes. The Ducato sits on MacPherson front suspension with a rigid-axle and leaf springs at the back. This ensures optimum stability, excellent use of the loading area and cab space, reduced weight and a huge variation of uses.

Payloads can vary between 1000 and 2000kg including the driver, and van buyers have a choice between four lengths, three wheelbases and three heights. Vans will also be available with eight different load area volumes from eight to 17 m3.

There are three different sizes of robust and practical sliding side doors while the rear doors can be opened to either 90, 180 or even 270 degrees. Inside it remains class leading in terms of maximum volume (17 m3), width between the wheel arches (1422mm), maximum height of the loading area (2.17m), rear door height (2.03m), and load height limit (46cm with the optional self-levelling suspension).

Between the cab and load area the partition can be fully panelled and upholstered in sound-proofed material for extra refinement, or have a sliding glass window to enable communication between the two areas. In the back there are load hooks with fastening rings that fold into the floor and waist level side hooks. The walls of the load area are protected by thermoformed panels up to waist height.

The body structure of the new Ducato is hugely versatile. Not only does it permit a GVW of up to 4000kg, it also allows the track to be increased to 1980mm for motorhome applications. All models can have self-levelling pneumatic suspension. This is controlled via buttons on the dash and makes for easier loading and unloading, improves performance over ramps and makes clearing obstacles easier.

The conversion base range which includes cabs, flatbeds and double cabs will have four wheelbases and five lengths. Maximum permitted loads over the front axle will be up to 2100kg and 2400kg on the rear axle.

The Ducato isn’t just versatile in the load area, and as the basis for a wide variety of vehicles it’s also got a comprehensive range of optional extras including the Blue&Me TomTom LIVE satellite navigation. The 2.3-litre engines (110, 130 and 150) are additionally available with Start&Stop. When the Ducato comes to a halt and is put in neutral, the engine cuts. Releasing the brake or pushing the clutch re-starts it automatically. It’s estimated this can reduce consumption by 15 per cent around town.

Other options include the Traction+ system. This uses the engine’s Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) computer to simulate the behaviour of a self-locking differential. When one of the driven front wheels spins on a slippery surface or over poor terrain, the brakes are applied to that wheel as simultaneously engine torque is transferred to the wheel with better grip.

The system is operated by a button on the dash, can be engaged at speeds of up to 19mph and ensures the best possible traction is maintained over the roughest terrain. And the combination of Traction+ with winter or all-season tyres gives Ducato owners the versatility to drive their vehicle over a wider range of terrains than rival commercial vehicles can cope with.

Traction+ includes ESP, which is also available as a stand-alone option. This important safety device uses information supplied by various sensors to check whether a vehicle is cornering safely or not. If the ESP computer believes the car is going to skid, it brakes the appropriate wheel or reduces engine power. However, ESP incorporates a host of other technologies. There is Load Adaptive Control (LAC) which identifies the size of the load and the vehicle’s centre of gravity to enable the systems to work at peak effectiveness. Hill Holder makes starts on slopes easier by holding the brake on momentarily after the driver’s foot has released the pedal. Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) increases braking pressure under emergency conditions, while Motor Schleppmoment Regelung (MSR) ensures torque remains at the wheels following a sudden downshift on an incline.

Daytime Running Lights (DRL), which have the Ducato’s parking lights turning on automatically with the ignition, will also be available as an option.

In 2011 the latest Fiat Ducato to be launched will incorporate the experience gained over 30 years of being at the cutting edge of van development. During that time, the Ducato has picked up international awards and sold more than 2.2 million examples worldwide. It’s also seen service across a huge variety of business sectors, functioned as the basis for countless motorhomes and been transformed into specialist transportation such as minibuses, ambulances and insulated freezer vehicles.

Even when it was first launched in 1981 the Ducato was a practical and solid machine that majored on flexibility, reliability and economy. It was restyled in 1990 before the third generation was launched in 1994. To accommodate the varying demands of vastly different customers, this model had a family of 500 versions if you take chassis, size and tonnage into account. This innovation was warmly welcomed by customers and it was voted International Van of the Year 1994 as a consequence.

Rather than a radical reinvention, the fourth generation launched in 2002 used the looks and philosophy of its predecessor as a basis and built on those. Just four years later the fifth generation hit the streets and turned the van world on its head. It was more stylish, comfortable, practical and driveable than any van up until then. And it combined safety, reliability, economy and versatility as well ensuring the Ducato became one of the foundation stones for successful businesses all over Europe.

The Ducato is built in the Sevel plant in Val di Sangro between Atessa and Paglieta in the Italian province of Chieti. It’s the largest commercial vehicle factory in Europe covering an area of more than 1.2 million square metres. The bodywork part of the plant creates 300 different types of chassis, paintwork uses around 120 colours, while the assembly line produces more than 6000 versions of commercial vehicle for both Fiat and PSA.

The world’s largest electric-powered truck undergoing tests with Carrefour

Electric energy is not only for small vehicles. Today, Renault presented the keys of an all-electric 16 t. Renault Midlum to the logistics company STEF-TFE. It is, quite simply, the largest electric-powered truck ever to be put on the road for delivering food products in towns. This new vehicle offers a silent and non-polluting solution for urban deliveries which is perfectly adapted to the urban environment. It is to be tested over a one-year period and will be supplying fresh products to Carrefour Group store chains in the Lyon conurbation. It is the result of a technological partnership between Renault Trucks, PVI and IFP Energies nouvelles.

The world of goods road transport has to face an enormous environmental challenge. To meet it, the industry players are now examining all possible solutions to reduce its negative effects, or even eliminate them altogether. One of the options under consideration, the use of electrical energy, has extremely interesting potential.

On 13 October 2011, in the company of Gérard Collomb, the Senator-Mayor of Lyon and President of the Greater Lyon Authority, Stefano Chmielewski, the President of Renault Trucks, presented the keys of a 16 ton all-electric Renault Midlum to Francis Lemor, President of STEF-TFE at a ceremony attended by his customer, Didier Thibaud, Supply Chain Director of Carrefour France. Two other partners with pivotal roles in the success of this project were also present: Pierre-Henri Bigeard, site manager of IFP Energies nouvelles’ Lyon site and Michel Bouton, CEO of PVI.

This 16 ton all-electric Renault Midlum is an experimental vehicle. It is the largest all-electric truck ever put on the road for the distribution of fresh food products in an urban environment. From the beginning of 2012, it will start a one-year assignment during which it will be supplying eight Carrefour stores in the centre of Lyon and surrounding conurbation (Carrefour Planet Vénissieux, Carrefour Market at Saint-Fons, as well as several Carrefour City, 8 à huit and Marché + convenience stores). Using this silent truck will mean that deliveries to town centre stores can be made early in the morning (between 5 AM and 7 AM) to respect the peace and quiet of local residents. The all-electric refrigerated truck will then travel to the Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu logistics platform so that it can make a delivery to the Carrefour Planet store at Vénissieux in the early afternoon. Altogether, it will cover a distance of 75 km.

This vehicle has been specially designed to keep pace with the changes currently taking place in major metropolitan distribution networks. It offers unparalleled acoustic comfort for drivers and local residents. Non-polluting, emitting absolutely no CO2and totally silent, this truck can carry 5.5 t of goods. It has an operating range of 100 km and can be fully recharged in only 8 hours. As a result, the vehicle has all the qualities needed for it to blend into its urban environment. This unique solution is the result of close collaboration between Renault Trucks, PVI and IFP Energies nouvelles. It was developed as part of the Melodys project, receiving financial support from the ADEME demonstrator fund. The purpose of this experiment is to test technologies which could be subsequently incorporated into production vehicles under actual operating conditions.

Technical characteristics of the All-electric Renault Midlum 16 t:

– Operating range: 100 km
– Recharging time: 8 hours
– Electric motor power: 103 kW
– 3 Lithium ion battery packs with a total capacity of 150 kWh
– Payload: – 5.5 tonnes
– Bodywork: refrigerating unit

Volvo’s LEZ conversion solution for Coventry coach operator

West Midland’s premier bus and coach operator Travel de Courcey turned for help to Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia, Coventry for a solution when they needed to convert one of their Mercedes coaches to cope with the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ.)

Coming into force from early January next year, less than six months away, the LEZ will restrict access to the Capital for non-complying vehicles, when Euro-4 will be the minimum emission standard required.

Neville Collins, Fleet Engineer at Travel de Courcey explains, “Anyone operating in London after the deadline will need to be running vehicles that will pass Euro-4 emissions regulations. Accordingly, we will be upgrading a number of our vehicles over coming months and this Mercedes Touro coach has been the first.”

It’s not just about London though. Neville adds, “Our local community are also benefiting from these lower emissions, and it underscores our green sustainability policy too.”

He confirmed that the aftermarket team at Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia’s Coventry Dealerpoint got the conversion business because they were very competitive on price.

Neville added, “As well as upgrading this vehicle from Euro-3 to Euro-4, the team at Coventry will be converting our Volvo B12s and hopefully our MAN coaches as well.”

This project reinforces Volvo’s ability to not only provide an LEZ solution for all makes, but to be competitive as well. The task in hand at Travel de Courcey involves the removal of exhaust and silencer peripherals and the installation of a compatible particulate trap.

Neville concluded, “We’ve had great service over the last few years from Volvo at Coventry and their parts team are experts at finding solutions both inside and outside the Volvo brand.”

Tyre firms ‘keep it in the family’ with Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Two of Britain’s best-known tyre businesses are investing in new fleets of Mercedes-Benz vans – but while one has been relying on vehicles bearing the three-pointed star for two decades, the other is gaining its first experience of the nation’s fleet favourite.

Sister companies National Tyres and Autocare, and Viking Wholesale Tyres and Equipment, are leaders in their respective fields: National Tyres is the UK’s largest independent fast-fit specialist, and Viking offers nationwide coverage from its warehouses located throughout the UK.

The two firms, which share the same owner in Axle Group Holdings, have ordered a total of 60 fuel-efficient Euro 5 Sprinter vans from Glasgow dealer Western Commercial. The new vehicles are the subject of a four-year Mercedes-Benz Financial Services operating lease; the first are already on the road and all will be in service by the end of the year.

Most – a combination of 3.5-tonne 316CDI Long and 3.0-tonne 210CDI Medium models – will wear the colours of Viking, which has also just taken delivery from Western Commercial of two box-bodied 7.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks and has a third on order.

Viking has been operating Mercedes-Benz vans for some 20 years. Its latest Sprinters will be used to distribute tyres from the company’s network of eight strategically located warehouses to retailers, dealerships and other customers which, depending on their locations, can receive up to three deliveries a day.

The remaining 23 Long- and Medium-length Sprinter 316CDIs are being equipped with tyre-fitting machines, wheel balancers and compressors, for use by National Tyres and Autocare’s highly-trained mobile fitters. They are the first Mercedes-Benz vans to be operated by National Tyres, which has more than 200 branches nationwide and has previously sourced its vehicles from another manufacturer.

Stewart Mackenzie is Logistics Manager for both businesses and responsible for a fleet of 90 Viking and 40 National Tyres vans. He led a comprehensive evaluation exercise that involved presentations by various manufacturers and considered the merits of several models before coming down firmly in favour of the multi-award-winning Mercedes-Benz contender.

“Viking’s experience over a number of years has confirmed the Sprinter to be an extremely reliable and economical vehicle to operate, with very few issues being reported by our depots,” he said.

“It is also comfortable to drive and therefore popular with our drivers, and the market-leader in terms of safety, which is another major attraction given our Duty of Care obligations to staff and other road-users.”

He continued: “Western Commercial’s Key Account Manager David Rae provides a first-class service and although we will undertake most routine maintenance in-house, we know we can also rely on the Mercedes-Benz network for back-up should we need it.

“All of these factors, taken together, convinced us that this was the right time to introduce the Sprinter across the board.”

Ongoing growth for light commercial vehicles

■Worldwide deliveries up by 25.5 percent between January to September 2011
■High growth on volume markets

Hannover, 13 October 2011: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has achieved major increases in sales figures between January and September 2011.

Europe’s market leader delivered 390,000 light commercial vehicles worldwide in the first nine months of 2011 – 25.5 percent up on the comparable period in the previous year (Jan – Sep 2010: 310,700).

“Our brand has never before sold so many vehicles in nine months,” says Harald Schomburg, Member of the Brand Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles for Sales and Marketing. “And we are looking forward to ongoing positive business development over the rest of the year as well.”

Best seller from the brand was the Caddy. With worldwide deliveries of 118,400 vehicles (94,300 in the previous year), the delivery van scored a rise of 25.6 percent.

Hot on its heels came the T5, with its variants, the Transporter, Caravelle, Multivan, and California, up by 9.6 percent at 115,700 deliveries (105,600 in the previous year).

With 26,700 sales worldwide, the Crafter confirmed its market position (previous year: 26,400). The Amarok trebled its sales volumes by the end of September, to 47,400 vehicles, and the Saveiro light pickup proved to be just as successful in sales in South America, with growth of 18.5 percent to 62,100 deliveries (52,400 in the previous year). In Brazil, the Transporter classic T2 sustained its sales volumes from the previous year with 19,500 units sold (previous year: 20,200).

“The ongoing sales success of our high-volume series in 2011 shows that we and our dealers are right on course in exploring all the market potentials”, says Schomburg. “Our latest Amarok series is fulfilling all our expectations. On the growth market of South America in particular, we are scoring excellent growth figures with the Pickup. And in Western Europe, too, the Amarok has succeeded in increasing sales five times over.”

In Western Europe, sales of all the model series from the brand were up by 17.5 percent by the end of September, at 211,900 units (previous year: 180,300). The biggest volume market remains Germany, with 91,200 vehicles sold (previous year: 84,700 vehicles, up 7.6 percent).

In Eastern Europe, sales of light commercial vehicles rose by 43.5 percent to 24,900 units (previous year: 17,300). In the Near and Middle East, influenced by sales figures in Turkey, deliveries rose by a third to 22,300 units (previous year: 16,900).

The most important region after Europe was once again South America, with a 30 percent rise to 105,000 vehicles sold (80,600 in the previous year).

“The sales achievement so far, with growth rates in double figures, confirms our sales strategy of aiming for sustained growth on markets outside Europe as well, with models fit for the future and a dealer network with the focus firmly on the customer”, as Schomburg emphasises.

CATLOC launches solution to keep thieves away

Catalytic converter theft is a growing threat to all vehicle owners and fleet operators, with police figures suggesting the number of vehicles being targeted has more than quadrupled in the last two years. In response to a growing demand from the industry, CATLOC has launched a new anti-theft device to discourage thieves.

During 2009, more than 1,100 catalytic converters were stolen across Britain (not including London). In the first five months of this year, more than 2,300 were taken, with the South and East of England being among the worst affected areas.

Thieves are targeting catalytic converters – located in the exhaust system – because of the high value of the precious metals they contain, which includes platinum, rhodium and palladium. Opportunistic thieves simply cut the catalytic converter from the exhaust pipe of a parked vehicle and sell them on to scrap metal dealers. This results in expensive repairs often running into thousands of pounds to replace the catalytic converter and the damaged exhaust, not to mention the inconvenience.

Larger vehicles such as 4x4s, LCVs and estates are especially vulnerable because their high ground clearance means the converters are more accessible.

It’s clearly a huge problem – and this is where CATLOC comes in. The CATLOC is a highly secure and cost effective catalytic converter anti-theft device. The universal design allows a secure fitment to 99% of at risk vehicles, without affecting the operation of the converter.

The CATLOC uses high quality components and for maximum effectiveness two security cables are attached to the vehicle’s underbody during installation. It also comes with ISR protection as standard. The ISR marking will deter thieves, and the registration kit securely etches a unique code which can be immediately identified by calling the ISR. Catloc offers a low and fixed cost 24hr nationwide installation service to ensure vehicles aren’t taken off the road when they’re needed most, or fitment at one of its approved centres if preferred.

Paul Chase is Managing Director of Catloc, the company recently launched to respond to industry demand for protection of catalytic converters. He commented: “We’re really pleased to announce the launch of CATLOC. It’s a great product and will really benefit fleets and well as private drivers. I believe the two key USP’s of CATLOC are cost effectiveness and our ability to offer our customers a fixed cost, nationwide 24 hour installation service – from experience we appreciate the importance of keeping our customers vehicles on the road and earning them money. By supplying a service that fits around their operation, we will massively reduce VOR time.

“I’m looking forward to rolling the product out – we’ve had a lot of interest already, and we’re so confident in the product being a success, we’re offering our customers the CATLOC money back guarantee.”

CATLOC is available to purchase from the website In addition, the team has vast experience and good relationships with many of the UK’s largest fleet operators, leasing companies and businesses. Companies wishing to find out more about CATLOC should call 08455 193902.

Pirelli to launch the H:01

Pirelli has developed a long haul truck tyre range that uses innovative technology to increase mileage up to fifteen per cent, as well as to offer high safety standards and improved acoustic comfort.

The new H:01 line, the latest addition to the Series 01 range, features the FH:01 for the steer and the TH:01 for the drive axle and is designed for use on motorways and arterial roads.

In addition to the increased mileage, products within the range have reduced rolling resistance (up to 30 per cent), reduced noise emissions (up to 30 per cent) and improved handling in both wet and dry conditions and high performance standards in terms of stopping distance and grip and traction on wet surfaces are all confirmed.
These results have been achieved thanks to Pirelli’s vast experience in creating high quality tyres and to its ongoing product development, which results in technological innovation.

The H:01 has built upon the knowledge gained from existing products in the Pirelli range and as a result the FH:01 and TH:01 feature increased tread width for higher mileage, plus newly developed tread patterns. The new ‘wave’ geometry of the grooves on the FH:01 ensures steering precision, while the directional tread pattern of model TH:01 gives improved grip on dry and wet surfaces.

Enriched with high contents of silica and nano components, the new tread compound
formulations of H:01 tyres, (for which there are two Pirelli patents pending), also play a key role in guaranteeing top performance in terms of low rolling resistance and high mileage.

Furthermore, the new H:01 tyres make use of the latest generation of SATTTM technology, which is the most advanced available for the production of truck tyres. The innovative belt pattern allows the H:01 to achieve high performance levels in terms of longevity and reliability while maintaining comfort levels and reducing damage to the environment.

Key benefits of the H:01 range
• Three Sandwich Belts (3SB), which serve to increase the life of the tyre, ensure constant performance, retreadability and improved handling
• Dual layer tread compound (DLTC): an external layer compound optimized to raise mileage, increase grip and reduce stopping distances, and an internal layer compound to reduce rolling resistance and guarantee enhanced structural integrity
• Hexagonal Bead Wire (HBW) to provide the maximum flexibility for fitting, facilitate retreading and ensure thermal stability and hence tyre life.
• Fully Rubberized Cord for belt (FRC), preventing oxidation and imparting greater strength and durability to the tyre.
• ECOIMPACT marking on the sidewall, shared by all tyres in the latest generation 01 Series, certifying reduced environmental impact thanks to:
• EnergyTM Efficient: low rolling resistance with reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions
• High mileage: improved mileage and extension of the first life of the tyre
• Retreadability: tyres that can be easily reused thanks to the high retread ratio and recyclable compounds free of environmentally harmful highly aromatic oils.
• Low noise levels resulting in quieter running, greater comfort and noise levels in compliance with the forthcoming 2012 European directives

The FH:01 and TH:01 will be available on the market from January 2012 in the sizes 295/80R22.5, 295/60R22.5, 315/60R22.5, 305/70R22.5, 315/70R22.5, 315/80R22.5 and 385/55R22.5 (FH:01 only).

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