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New Crafter pictures and full details

The Volkswagen Crafter will be a direct rival to the Ford Transit’s mighty range when it is launched next year, after the German manufacturer officially revealed the specification for its new in-house built van.

A brand new front-wheel-drive version will be added to the range along with rear-wheel-drive versions and Volkswagen 4Motion all-wheel-drive variants. Launched with three vehicle lengths and three vehicle heights, with single and double chassis cabs, there will also be bodied dropside and tipper models direct from the factory, as well as Luton and caged tipper vehicles through the newly introduced Converter Recognition programme.

Power will come from a new 2-litre TDI engine that has been developed specifically for the Crafter with power ratings of 101hp, 121hp, 138hp from a single turbocharged unit, and 174hp from a bi-turbo engine. Six-speed manual transmissions will be standard, but an 8-speed torque converter automatic gearbox capable of handling the 410Nm of torque available on the most powerful models will also be added to the range.

The new model has been developed with the help of a number of large fleets, including TNT, the RAC and National Grid, with more than 900 customer group representatives from across Europe involved in the process.  Specific attention has been paid to the courier and logistics sectors, and the servicing and mobile workshop fleets which represent 44% of Crafter’s current sales. Leasing companies and existing and past customers have also been involved in the process, with customer group requirements leading to the introduction of specific features such as automatic transmissions, telematics or shelving and racking system preparations.

Equipment levels in the new Crafter will be decided nearer to launch on a local market basis, but new technology will include blindspot detection, sidewind assist, sign assist, post-collision braking and emergency calling. There will also be the option of adaptive cruise control, LED headlights with cornering and automatic main beam functions, and a Rear Traffic Alert system to reduce the chance of an accident while reversing. Footage of prototype test vehicles being driven also shows that the Crafter will have a new lane holding steering system that will hold the van within the road’s lane markings.

The interior is completely new with more usable space atop the dash – sectioned into three compartments, with two cupholders – while the dash section is split horizontally to create another cup-sized storage section for both driver and passenger. A navigation/infotainment screen fills the central part of the dashboard above a set of dials for climate control. Door compartment storage is also split in to three segments with a narrow top and bottom units and a larger central section big enough for folders or water bottles.

Volkswagen Crafter 2017
Orders will start in November 2016 with additional variants added throughout 2017

Volkswagen says the introduction of a front wheel drive (FWD) Crafter van, something not previously available on outgoing Mercedes-Benz-built Crafters, will allow them to approach new customers and improve upon the model’s current 7.4% market share. FWD models will occupy a 3-tonne to 4-tonne GVW range, while rear-wheel-drive (RWD) vans will start at 3.5-tonnes and reach up to 5.5-tonnes. Towing capacity has increased by 500kg to 3.5 tonnes.

FWD vans have also allowed the Crafter’s vital statistics to increase, with a rise in the maximum payload of the new van thanks to a lower kerb weight, while the front-drive configuration has enabled the rear loading height to be reduced and interior standing to be increased. The new drivetrain option will also decrease the cost of a Crafter, with  lower entry level pricing, and improved fuel consumption and total cost of ownership. RWD Crafter vans will be able to transport even higher payloads thanks to the lower kerbweight and improved GVW, up from 5 tonnes to 5.5 tonnes. Single and twin rear wheel models will both be available.

All-wheel-drive Crafter vans will be limited to just 3.5 to 4 tonne GVWs, with 138hp and 174hp the only two engine outputs available. FWD customers can specify the new 101hp engine output, 138hp or 174hp, while RWD buyers get the full range.

Orders for the FWD vans will start in November this year, with deliveries expected during Q1 of 2017. Additional models will then be added to the range throughout 2017 with the RWD and automatic versions available by the end of the year.

MAN's version of the van, the MAN TGE, will be released in mid 2017, with UK models expected to arrive in the autumn.

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