First electric van from Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz says it believes its Vito E-Cell is the first ex-factory battery-electric van.

The new van has a 130km range and is “ideally suitable for inner-city operations” and in environmentally sensitive areas. Neither payload weight nor cube are cut by the emission-free drive line and batteries and the vehicle is virtually silent to run. The firm says it is building a 100-strong batch and plans to make 2,000 more from 2011.

Mercedes says subsidies and tax breaks in many countries mean that the Vito E-Cell is “considerably” cheaper to run than a diesel Vito. The firm also says that diesel fuel is up to seven times more costly than off-peak electricity.

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Middle East success for TruckProtect

TruckProtect says its Middle East agent has sold 10,000 of the firm’s NeckIt units.

This, it says, means TruckProtect is the Middle East’s market leader for fuel anti-siphon devices. Richard Fowler, the firm’s technical director says the firm’s success follows it joining an SMMT delegation to the Middle East two years ago. “We aimed to find an agent and succeeded. We joined the market at a perfect time and have dominated with customers such as the major Al Naboodah and Arabtec groups. The help from the SMMT was invaluable,” says Fowler.

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Daimler to spend $200m on Detroit Diesel

Daimler Trucks North America says it will spend $194m (€157m) on its Detroit Diesel engine factory in Redford, Michigan.

The move will be “supported” by state and local incentives, including a Michigan Economic Growth Authority Award of $56.8 million (€46m) as well as other state and local tax credits. The cash will “substantially expand” engine production capacity in Redford. DTNA says it is the leading supplier of EPA 2010-compliant Class 8 heavy-duty trucks.

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Good long-term prospects for road freight

The first quarter of 2010 has already seen a return to some unmistakable growth rates in freight transport.

Forecasts for the year as a whole in Germany, for example, assume an increase in road freight transport of over 6%. “In the coming year, we could reach the volume we had in 2008,” said Matthias Wissmann, president of the VDA (Association of the German auto industry). Despite all the positive signs, “the crisis is not yet over.”

It will take “quite a while” to get back to pre-crisis commercial vehicle sales levels. 2010 production levels in Western Europe, North America and Japan are below those of 2008, but data show that commercial vehicle markets have begun to recover.

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Daf goes all EEV

Daf now offers an EEV version of its 6.7 litre Paccar GR-engine.

This move makes the firm the first truck maker with a full, EEV ultra-low emission engine range. Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicles emit at least 33% less particulates than Euro 5 levels. Daf says that some of its smaller engines can hit EEV emission levels without the need for particulate filters. This saves about 30kg a truck and frees space on the chassis that may be used for accessories or extra fuel capacity.

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No consistent recovery until next year

“In 2008 China took less than 30% of the heavy vehicle market over six tonnes.”

“This year the figure will exceed 40%,” said Matthias Wissmann of the VDA. “Western truck markets, too, will recover in 2010, even if from a low level.”

Since the middle of last year the US truck business has picked up “and we expect growth of about 11% this year.” Brazil is the main truck market in South America, with sales up by more than half. In Western Europe, by contrast, the VDA expects “only a slight rise” over 2009 levels. “2010 is not going to deliver a major boost to the heavy vehicle market, but will bring stability instead. “We cannot expect to see a consistent recovery across the sector until next year.”

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UK gets new 7.0 tonne Daily and EcoDaily

Iveco has extended its UK range of Daily and EcoDaily vans and light trucks with a series of new 7.0 tonne van, chassis cab and crew cab models.

These offer a 4.7 tonne body and payload allowance, 470kg more than 6.5 tonne models. Iveco says this is more than many medium range trucks and “testament to the Daily’s truck-derived heritage.” The chassis is 2,174m narrow, “making the range ideal” for urban work where Iveco says it offers a “viable alternative” to fleets running 7.5 tonners, particularly those delivering dense goods like newspapers, stationery and drinks.

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Krone wins repeat Dennis deal

Dennis Distribution just got two new Krone Cool Liner Duoplex GRP trailers.

The Yorkshire-based transport firm now has nine Krone trailers in its 70 strong fleet; the others are four milk tankers and three curtainsiders. The new Cool Liners will carry Dovecote Park’s beef products from Yorkshire to distribution centres in Southern England.

They also carry a ten-year paint corrosion cover. Richard Dale, transport manager and partner at the firm is “very pleased” with its Krone trailers following their 18 months dairy products work.

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Sun, sea, sand – and Commercial Motor

The sun has gone to the heads of those fine journalists at Commercial Motor: they’re producing a summer sizzler on 12 August.

“As well as all the usual news and legal coverage you expect from the transport industry bible,” Justin Stanton says the “special summer sizzler” will have a group test of five 120-tonners and a story on the logistics of running a holiday camp.

There is also a countdown of the top 10 truck liveries and a countdown of the most famous vans from the big and small screen. Then there’s the shocking truth uncovered about trucking celebrities and an exposé on the top 10 traffic black-spots for the summer and beyond.

Taking a holiday will be no excuse for missing it, but it’s a “bring your own sun cream” deal. Don’t forget either.

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Germany well prepared for upturn

Last year, across the whole German commercial vehicle industry, sales dropped to half their previous level.

Some firms, trailer makers and bodybuilders, lost 80% of their sales. Despite that the industry retained 95% of its permanent staff, “leaving it well prepared for the upturn,” said Matthias Wissmann, president of the Verbund der Deutsche Automobile Industrie (Association of the German auto industry).

He was speaking at the VDA’s excellent commercial vehicle industry “curtain raiser” press conference, ahead of its huge IAA truck show in Hannover this autumn.

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