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The Commercial Vehicle Show 2021 – What’s New?

The annual CV Show in Birmingham takes place once a year and with product launches galore, it’s a key date in any van enthusiast’s calendar. The small matter of a global pandemic meant that we’ve not had an event since April 2019 but, the organisers were committed to holding a show this year, which went ahead last week. Vanarama’s Van Expert Tim Cattlin takes a look at the new arrivals who broke cover for the first time at the 2021 CV Show.

New Vehicles On Show - Ford 

Ford E-Transit blog

As usual, Ford took centre stage with the biggest stand of the show, and using the event for the European public unveiling of the all-electric E-Transit. Although not available until 2022, there is huge interest in the van primarily due to its claimed range of almost 200 miles between charges, cutting edge technology, excellent payloads and availability not just in van form, but also double cab and chassis variants.

The manufacturer also demonstrated the new Ford Liive (not a typo, it really does have two ‘i’s) telematics facility. It says that the system can identify faults before a potential breakdown and, in conjunction with the built-in modem supplied as part of the FordPass feature built into most Ford vans, can notify a dealer who will already have made preparations for dealing with the issue before the van arrives.

Improvements to the specification of Transit were announced with additional safety tech and driver aids being offered as standard on Trend and Limited models.

A Surprise From Toyota 

Toyota Corolla van Taking many by surprise, Toyota announced a van version of their Corolla estate passenger car. Powered by a petrol-electric hybrid engine, the manufacturer gave few details away regarding engine output, payload or official load bay measurements. At first glance, given the fact that the van retains the rear passenger doors of the car and that the rear side windows are merely covered in film, you’d be hard pushed to tell the van apart from the car. It’s an interesting concept though and, with only 2 car derived vans on the market right now, the much smaller Renault Zoe and Ford Fiesta, Toyota may well have identified a niche demand for a larger van which, to all intents and purposes, will be identical to a car when it comes to driving.

Toyota also launched its fully electric Proace City van. It’s their version of the Citroen e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Partner and Vauxhall Combo-e.

Committing To An Electric Future

Vivaro-e Hydrogen

Initially, it was thought that Vauxhall would be on the list of manufacturers which had decided to give the show a miss but attend they did, and demonstrating a big commitment to the electric vehicle future, they used the event to show off the Combo-e and Movano-e, based on the recently revised diesel version.

Vauxhall was the only exhibitor of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered van. The Vivaro–e Hydrogen (essentially similar in the way it works to a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicle)) isn’t likely to be seen in the UK for a couple of years and given the lack of a refuelling infrastructure in this country its success may be restricted. Many cite hydrogen as the way forward though, so hats off to Vauxhall for investing in the technology.

Once again occupying a large section of the main hall, the Irish importers of Chinese brand Maxus (formerly LDV) only had fully electric vans on display. Although primarily just the 2 models, e Deliver 3 and e Deliver 9, there were various conversions exhibited including a dropside, fridge van and a high roof version.

Rival manufacturers are introducing telematics and connectivity solutions across their van ranges and Maxus used the show to announce its own solution, called Maxus Intelligence Onboard. This allows remote monitoring of battery state and live GPS positioning data.

Pick-ups On Show 

Ford Ranger Stormtrak special edition

With the withdrawal from the UK market of a number of pick-up manufacturers, there were just the four on show at the NEC – the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota HiLux and the Ssangyong Musso. There’s no sign yet of an electric pickup coming to our shores although there are a number in various stages of development.

Ford displayed special edition Ranger and Ranger Raptors but otherwise, there were no big announcements or changes. The next Ranger will be the result of a joint venture with Volkswagen which will market the truck under its Amarok branding.

Ssangyong remained loyal to the CV Show, with a modestly revised Musso on the stand. It’s a halfway house upgrade with a more substantial facelift due next year, the big change here being the now very fashionable and aggressive front grille. The Musso is often overlooked, but is a very capable truck, albeit with a small load bed.

Isuzu D-Max in Arctic Trucks AT35 guise

Isuzu once again took substantial stand space and are keen to capitalise on the reduced level of competition in the pick-up sector with their recently facelifted D-Max. The star of the stand was the first glimpse of the Arctic Trucks AT35 conversion which grabbed the attention of anyone passing anywhere near.

Other manufacturers who took the plunge and exhibited at the show included London Taxi manufacturer LEVC, showing off their hybrid van version of the cab, the VN5 to the public for the very first time. Land Rover was also present and had on display the Defender Hard Top, the commercial version of the replacement for the original Defender, and also an example of the Discovery Commercial.

A Different Kind Of Show 

There’s no doubt that both exhibitors and visitors were exercising caution this year and many regular participants stayed away, either with nothing new to show or perhaps unsure as to how successful it would be. Vehicle manufacturers missing included Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz (not in attendance for many years), Renault, Nissan, Fiat Professional, Iveco, Citroen and Peugeot. Visitor numbers were also down, possibly due to the potential Covid-19 risks and the reduced number of new models on display.

So, a much quieter event than the one we’ve all been used to, but, some important developments on show and the big, big change compared to the last event in 2019 is the focus on electric vans. With the Government’s intention that we’ll be unable to buy or lease a new diesel van from 2030, manufacturers are in full swing to compete for your custom with the best tech, the longest range and highest payload. With the next show planned for as early as May 2022, we can’t wait to see what further developments will be unveiled. The pace is really hotting up.

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