Niall HamptonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Editor's Blog’ written by Niall Hampton
The annual Commercial Vehicle Show is an ideal way of keeping up to speed with developments in the base vehicle market. Much of what we see relating to selected light commercial vehicles across the two halls at the NEC Birmingham will percolate down to the following season’s campervans and motorhomes, and it’s also a good opportunity for curious folk to quiz various manufacturers about technical matters.
This year’s event was noteworthy for a variety of reasons: with the September 2016 deadline for adoption of the Euro 6 emissions standard – which requires a 55% reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions compared to the current Euro 5 standard – we were hoping to see how the big manufacturers would be addressing the change.
First off the block with a new Euro 6 engine was Ford. The Blue Oval unveiled its EcoBlue engine on the first day of the show. Initially to be deployed in Transit and Transit Custom vans, it’s available to order now and will also be rolled out in Ford cars. A 2.0-litre turbodiesel, it supersedes the current 2.2-litre TDCi engine, increasing fuel efficiency by 13% while emitting 157g/km of CO2 emissions. Euro 6 compliance is delivered via a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system using diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) for NOx reduction. The new engine is available in 105bhp, 130bhp and 170bhp outputs, and radio listeners will be cheered to hear that it radiates half the sound of the previous 2.2-litre engine while idling.
In other Ford news, a six-speed automatic transmission will be available as an option on Transit vehicles later this year, as will some new safety aids: side wind stabilisation and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.
Other manufacturers to reveal their Euro 6 plans at the CV Show included Iveco – its Daily is the base for many top-end motorhomes from the likes of RS Motorhomes and Germany’s Dethleffs, Concorde and Carthago.
The new Daily E6 offers three engine options: a 2.3-litre block preferring EGR to SCR and available with 120, 140 and 160bhp outputs, a 3.0-litre unit using SCR and with five choices of output, plus a 3.0-litre compressed natural gas version (the 2.3-litre engine is also available with SCR technology instead of EGR, if preferred). Iveco claims an improvement of 8% in fuel economy for E6 over its Euro 5+ engines, and the firm’s HI-MATIC eight-speed automatic transmission is available on over 60% of the new Euro 6 engines.
Also found on the Iveco stand was a Daily 4x4, which should appeal to converters of off-road motorhomes, and we could well see examples carrying these new underpinnings in the coming season. But the Italian manufacturer wasn’t finished there – crowds of admiring commercial fleet buyers positively sparked up over an electrically powered variant, the zero-emissions Daily Electric, which has a range of up to 174 miles.
Plug-in vehicles were also displayed by Citroën, in the form of an all-electric Berlingo mini-van, alongside a new version of the Dispatch, an occasional base for small self-built conversions.
Citroën is one third of the SEVEL manufacturing partnership that brings us Citroën Relay, Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer vans, but its French stablemate wouldn’t comment at the show regarding its plans for a Boxer Euro 6 engine. However, a Euro 6 unit fitted to a newly revamped version of the compact Expert van – making its world premiere in Birmingham, no less – all but confirms that the brand is going down the SCR route, with a filler cap for AdBlue (a trademark for diesel exhaust fluid) behind the nearside passenger door.
There was no word from Fiat about its Euro 6 engine plans, but the word in commercial vehicle circles suggests it may have managed to meet the new standard using EGR technology rather than an SCR system using DEF. An announcement is expected soon, so watch this space.
The Peugeot and Fiat approaches have added relevance for motorhome owners, though. Carrying an onboard tank of a DEF such as AdBlue has a weight implication, and will impact on the user payload. If Fiat manages to meet Euro 6 using EGR technology, and this solution results in a markedly lower weight penalty than the DEF option, then it could win a lot of new fans.
Among other base vehicle manufacturers exhibiting at the show, Renault confirmed that a four-wheel-drive version of its Master van, underpinning the likes of the Adria Matrix Supreme 687 SBC will debut this summer – offering 4x2 transmission for normal roads or a 4x4 mode for poor quality roads or off-road use – and that the smaller Trafic van (the base for the Hillside Ellastone, our reigning rising-roof camper of the year, will soon receive the option of an automatic transmission. Renault joins the likes of Mercedes-Benz, with its popular Sprinter base vehicle, in already having joined the Euro 6 party.
Renault also confirmed that X-Track technology is to feature across its range of vans. Designed to offer higher traction performance for use in challenging conditions, X-Track covers four main aspects of the vehicle: all-weather tyres, raised ground clearance, underbody protection and a limited-slip differential. In addition, all Renault vans now have the Grip Xtend traction control system as standard.
Elsewhere, Toyota unveiled its latest Proace light van, a previous version of which G&P Campervan Conversions successfully converted into a capable camper. Developed in collaboration with Citroën and Peugeot, the new Proace is Euro 6 compliant – just like its half-siblings Berlingo and Expert.
And we’re pleased to report that one name absent from the new van market in recent years has just made a return: LDV. Now under the ownership of China’s SAIC Motor, LDV’s V80 van is powered by Italian-made engines, including a Euro 5+ 2.5-litre 136bhp turbodiesel. Although a selection of V80 conversions was being showcased, the substantial loading bay of the 5.7m-long high-roof panel van looked like an ideal space to house a motorhome’s habitation area. And in keeping with many other manufacturers at the CV Show, there’s also an electric version in the range – the EV80.