NEW VW CRAFTER PROBABLY ALSO ON THE AMERICAN MARKET
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has completed the European launch of an all-new Crafter light commercial van range. The company, a division of Volkswagen Truck & Bus, unveiled the vans at last year’s IAA Commercial Vehicles exhibition in Hanover, Germany. Sales of front-wheel-drive models commenced earlier in 2017 and now, with the addition of rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive vans and chassis cabs, Volkswagen is pushing for growth at the heavier end of its van lineup.
In total, the company will offer European buyers 69 derivatives of the Crafter panel van and chassis cab. Crafter vans are available in three body lengths, with three roof heights, offering load volumes of 9.3 to 18.4 m3 (12.5 to 24.6 yd3). Chassis cabs come in two wheelbases with three body lengths, providing overall lengths of 6.2 to 7.2 m (20.3 to 23.6 ft). Besides goods carriers a number of minibuses and coaches will be available.
The new vehicles will not only be sold as Volkswagens, but also added to the MAN range of vehicles, designated the TGE.
Front-wheel-drive Crafters can be ordered at 3000 and 3500 kg (6615 to 7715 lb) gross weight, while all-wheel-drive 4Motion models are only available at 3500 kg. The 4Motion vans are based on the front-wheel drive’s transverse engine layout with a Haldex coupling transferring drive to the rear axle if the front wheels lose traction.
Rear-wheel-drive Crafters are available at 3500 and 5000 kg GVW (7715 and 11,020 lb), with a 5500-kg (12,125-lb) model to come in the future. The lighter 3.5-t (3.9-ton) rear-drive models have single rear wheels, while the heavier vans and chassis will come with twin rear wheels. A super single rear tire will be offered as an option on the twin rear wheel vans toward the end of 2018.
All Crafter vans are powered by Volkswagen’s EA288 four-cylinder 2.0-L diesel engine, mounted transversely in front- and all-wheel drive models and longitudinally in the rear-drive vans. The engines are equipped with a diesel particulate filter and an SCR (selective catalytic reduction) catalytic converter to meet Euro 6 emission levels. All Crafter vans have an 18-L AdBlue tank, for SCR.
Volkswagen is offering a choice of standard six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, which is available with all three driveline configurations.
All Crafter models have electro-mechanical steering, contributing to reduced fuel consumption. The system also allows VW to offer a wide range of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). As standard that will include City Emergency Braking, Driver Alert, Crosswind Assist on panel vans, Adaptive Cruise Control on higher trim models, and Post Collision Braking.
Optional systems include Lane Assist, plus there is a sensor-based side protection system. Customers can also specify Park Assist, which can park the van parallel to other vehicles or in a line of traffic, and Trailer Assist, which makes reversing with a trailer much easier. This system allows the driver to steer the van using the electric mirror adjusting toggle on the door, rather than the steering wheel, so the driver can lean out of the window to see behind the van while maneuvering.
Volkswagen is preparing to trial an electric Crafter - the e-Crafter - over the coming months with selected customers in Germany. Powered by a 43-kW·h lithium-ion battery pack, the e-Crafter uses a 100-kW electric motor delivering 290 N·m (214 lb·ft) and a potential operating range of more than 200 km (125 mi).
Volkswagen claims that the van has been designed to account for future battery development, which could see possible ranges of up to 400 km (250 mi).
The battery pack is located beneath the van’s standard height load floor and with rapid 40-kW charging capability should be able to recharge to 80% in just 45 minutes. With a gross weight of 4250 kg (9370 lb), the e-Crafter offers a load volume of 11.3 m3 (15.1 yd3) with a payload of 1709 kg (3768 lb).
At present, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is not present in the U.S. market, though the company has acquired a stake in heavy truck manufacturer Navistar. There is also a growing demand for European-style vans in the North American market, with Ford producing Transit in Kansas City; Mercedes building Sprinter at its Charleston plant; and Fiat offering the Ducato van as a Ram ProMaster.
Volkswagen would have to look at some form of local production, potentially from kits, to avoid heavy import duties. However, the company has not ruled out future sales of vans in the North American market.