Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label 2018

Volkswagen launches new Amarok Dark Label special edition

Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label 2018

The 2018 Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label,. Production will be limited to “around 200 units”.

Ever get a feeling of deja vu? Volkswagen is reprising the success of its 2014 Amarok Dark Label special edition by launching an updated model for 2018. Like all new Amaroks, this time the Dark Label comes with 3.0-litre V6 power, rather than the then-range topping 2.0-litre BiTurbo model.

The difference is not huge, but it’s likely to be very satisfying for the lucky drivers. Whereas the 2.0-litre engine put out 180 PS and 420Nm, the new V6-powered Amarok pumps out 204 PS and a stump-pulling 500 Nm of torque from 1,250-2,750rpm.

You won’t need to stir the ‘box to keep moving in this pickup. And seamless delivery of power is guaranteed as the new Dark Label comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, coupled with permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

What else is new?

As you’d expect, the Dark Label is fully specced up. On the outside, this pickup will be fitted with 18″ Rawson alloy wheels, matt black mirror housings, black door handles and a black rear bumper. Standard paint is Carbon Steel grey metallic, although buyers can also choose between Deep Black pearlescent or matt Indium Grey.

Matt black side bars and rear styling bar complete the picture (of a truck you won’t want to get dirty).

Inside, the black theme continues with Alcantara seat covers, black headlining and “unique Dark Label floor mats”. Infotainment is VW’s upmarket Discover Media system, which comes with a 6.3″ touchscreen, together with Voice Enhancer and Guide & Inform.

Practical touches for drivers include rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights with follow-me-home function and heated, adjustable and folding door mirrors.

Order books are open

It’s an attractive package and only “around 200 units” will be available. Order books close in April with prices starting from £33,650 + VAT&OTR charges. That’s a hefty £7,425 more than the previous Dark Label.

Mitsubishi L200 pickup

Updated Mitsubishi L200 gets 3.5-tonne towing capacity

Mitsubishi L200 pickup

The Mitsubishi L200 pickup has been updated with 3.5t towing capacity and a new infotainment system.

Mitsubishi’s current L200 pickup was introduced in 2015. This model has remained popular despite an increasing number of competitors. To help broaden the appeal of the L200, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes which should help it compete against the slightly larger offerings elsewhere in the sector.

Top of the list is towing capacity, which has been increased to 3.5 tonnes, albeit only for three-axle braked trailers. Towing capacity for single or twin-axle trailers is 3.1 tonnes. To complement the pickups upgraded towing abilities, the L200 will now be fitted with the Trailer Stability Assist system as standard. This brakes individual wheels automatically to stablise truck and trailer if ‘snaking’ is detected.

The bed payload at maximum towing weight is a still-usable 590kg, which Mitsubishi say is “significantly greater” than some rivals.

Driver comfort and convenience hasn’t been forgotten in the upgrades. The updated L200 gets a touchscreen and voice-controlled Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA) infotainment system that’s compatible with most popular smartphones. Drivers can make and receive calls, listen to music and use their phone’s sat nav system through the in-vehicle screen, which also doubles up as the screen for the reversing camera.

Mitsubishi L200 SDA infotainment system

An updated SDA infotainment system is available in the L200

Priced from £19,000 (CV List Price), the Mitsubishi L200 is available in single, club and double cab body styles. The pickup offers a payload of up to 1,060kg and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes (braked).

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Ford Tourneo Custom and Tourneo Connect

New Ford Tourneo models unveiled at Brussels Motor Show

Ford Tourneo Custom and Tourneo Connect

The new Ford Tourneo Custom and Tourneo Connect

Ford’s new Tourneo Custom and Tourneo Connect people movers have made their first public appearance at the Brussels Motor Show.

Tourneo Custom

The new Tourneo Custom is available in 8/9 seater configurations and features updated styling plus some new in-cab tech, such as a voice-controlled assistance system. It’s also available with six rear seats, three of which can be swivelled to provide a conference-type seating arrangement.

Powered by the Ford’s EcoBlue diesel engine, the model will be available with a choice of 105 PS, 130 PS and 170 PS power ratings, plus a 17-inch alloy wheel option for “enhanced handling and braking performance”.

Passengers benefit from convenient features such as multiple USB sockets and an optional 10-speaker sound system.

Aimed firmly at the executive transfer and minicab markets, the Tourneo Customer looks likely to be popular with minibus hire firms too, in my view.

Tourneo Connect

This smaller model is more likely to be of interest to large families and minicab drivers. Available in five or seven-seat versions, the Tourneo Connect also gets two new powertrains. Buyers can choose from Ford’s all-new 1.5-litre EcoBlue diesel or the excellent and very popular 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.

Both are likely to offer good performance and economy and are specified with six-speed manual transmission as standard. The diesel is also available with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

As with its larger sibling, the Tourneo Connect gets updated interior and exterior styling.

Volkswagen Transporter Highline

Volkswagen van scrappage scheme extended into 2018

Volkswagen Transporter Highline

Buyers can save up to £2,000 on a new Volksagen Transporter van with the scrappage scheme.

If you’re struggling to choose between long-term van hire and buying a new van, then news that Volkswagen has extended its van scrappage scheme for 2018 may help you to decide.

VW Commercial Vehicles has extended the scrappage scheme introduced in September 2017. This enabled buyers to receive a scrappage incentive of up to £2,000 on a new Euro 6 van when they traded in a pre-Euro 5 diesel registered before 2010.

These offers have now been extended so they’re available to buyers ordering a new Euro 6 van by 31 March 2018 and registering the new vehicle by 30 June 2018. The trade-in vehicle must also have been owned by the customer for at least six months and the customer must be a retail buyer.

The offer is available alongside other current retail offers. The company says that — for example — this means a discount of up to £3,500 is available on a new Caddy van. Here’s a summary of the scrappage offers available on VW’s new Euro 6 petrol and diesel vans:

Model Scrappage Scheme saving
Caddy Panel Van & Caddy Life (SWB & LWB) £1,000
Transporter Panel Van and Kombi £2,000
Crafter £2,000

For more information on the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles scrappage scheme, click here.

SMMT UK van registrations Dec 2011 - Dec 2017

New van registrations down 3.6% in 2017

 

Registrations of new light commercial vehicles fell by 3.6% to 362,149 units in 2017, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The decline is the first such fall since 2012.

SMMT UK van registrations Dec 2011 - Dec 2017

UK van registrations Dec 2011 – Dec 2017 (source: SMMT)

The markets for vans under 2.0 tonnes and heavy vans weighing 2.5-3.5t drove the overall annual decline, falling -20.3% and -3.1% respectively. However, demand for pick-ups and smaller vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes saw uplifts of 7.8% and 2.3% respectively, compared with 2016.

As I remarked at the start of 2017, it was clear one year ago that the rush to buy new vans was slowing. That being so, I don’t think last year’s decline is necessarily a sign of problems to come. After such strong demand growth, a period of consolidation always seemed likely.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes is keen to encourage government stimulus in 2018,:

“While the market has slowed in 2017, this was in line with expectations and demand remains at a high level. In fact, LCV registrations have increased 62.5% since 20101. For 2018, however, we expect the economic and political uncertainty to continue to affect the market so government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is fastest way to reduce overall emissions.”

New van registrations have indeed risen strongly since 2010. But it’s probably worth putting this in context — in 2010, the UK and western Europe was still emerging from the worst recession since the 1920s. So you’d expect to have seen strong growth since then.

Top-selling vans in 2017

I’ve written about Ford’s iron grip on the new van market before. The latest figures from the SMMT make it clear just how total the blue oval’s dominance was in 2017:

Best selling vans of 2017

The best selling vans of 2017 (source: SMMT)

Crunching the numbers, we can see that Ford’s four top-selling vans accounted for 30.7% of all new LCVs registered last year. That’s a pretty strong endorsement of the group’s decision a few years ago to replace its entire range of LCVs.

Eastgate Commercial Mercedes vans

New contract hire firm kicks off with 130 Mercedes vans

Eastgate Commercial Mercedes vans

Buta Singh says that he’s “a perfectionist” who will only taken on a commitment if he can deliver “a top-quality service”.

It was with this approach in mind that Mr Singh recently launched Wolverhampton-based van hire firm Eastgate Commercial Ltd with his sister, Baljit Johal. The launch event took place at Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium, where Eastgate carries advertising.

The pair already run a commercial property business and say that demand from their customers prompted their decision to launch the new venture. Mr Singh is certainly starting big. Having recently taken delivery of 130 new Mercedes-Benz Vito 109 CDI vans, the firm has already placed an order for a further 100 Vito 111 CDI models.

According to the firm, the firm’s first 130 vans were all allocated to customers before their arrival. Most are now being used by contractors working as couriers for online retail giant Amazon.

All the vans carry Eastgate branding on their rear doors and are fitted with a remote shutdown facility. This will enable the vans to be disabled remotely if any are reported as being driven irresponsibly, a facility Mr Singh says his customers “have welcomed wholeheartedly”.

The company is already looking forward to the next phase in its development. “We want to grow, but in a controlled and sustainable manner,” continued Buta Singh. “We have no plans to rival the biggest players in the rental market, of course, but we are aiming to have between 500 and 1,000 vans on the road by 2019.”

CV output rolling year Nov 2009 - 2017

UK CV manufacturing output fell 34.6% in November

 

Bad news on UK vehicle manufacturing arrived just after this blog’s Christmas shutdown. A worsening slump in export demand caused UK commercial vehicle manufacturing volumes to fall by 34.6% in November.

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 6,312 vans, trucks, buses and coaches left UK production lines in November, compared to 9,649 in November 2016.

Home demand continued to fall but the rate at which exports are declining has almost doubled since September:

SMMT CV manufacturing November 16-17

UK CV manufacturing output November 2017 (source: SMMT)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes believes uncertainty over Brexit is one of the reasons for the decline in domestic demand:

“November marks the ninth month of negative growth for UK CV production in 2017. Whilst fleet purchasing cycles have fluctuated, declining confidence among operators in the CV market is no doubt affecting production. To stimulate demand and safeguard the competitiveness of our industry, we need urgent clarity on transition arrangements and the nature of our long-term future relationship with Europe.”

Mr Hawes failed to comment on the far more severe reduction in export demand. This seems all the more worrying to me because exports’ share of production rose from 57.7% to 62.1% during the first 11 months of 2017. I’d imagine that if volumes decline much further, excess production capacity could become problematic.

As the graph below illustrates, total CV output fell sharply last month to levels not seen since late 2014/early 2015:

CV output rolling year Nov 2009 - 2017

CV output rolling year Nov 2009 – 2017 (source: SMMT)

It’s not yet clear whether this sudden slide will be a one-off correction or the start of a new trend. Let’s hope it’s the former and that fleet orders will rise as we head into 2018.

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