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Review: CV Show and Workshop 2014

08 May 2014 #Bus and Coach #CV Show #Features & Interviews #Logistics #News #Trailer #Truck #Van

It has often been said that there is no better way to take the pulse of any given industry than to attend a busy trade show.

If this is the case, then the commercial vehicle sector looks to be in good health. At the CV Show, held at the NEC in the last week of April, the number of exhibitors was up on last year, with the third hall used to capacity for the first time for some time. The number of new products and launches was up on last year too, and while at the time of writing we haven’t had confirmation of the official number of visitors, the halls seemed to be busier than last year as well.

So, what brought all of these people to Birmingham? Well, some of the biggest draws had to have been the new products from the various vehicle manufacturers.

Citroën was at the Show with the new Relay van. The vehicle features a different ‘face’ to its predecessor, but perhaps of more significance to a fleet operator is the moulded plastic bumper, which is fitted in several different pieces, meaning that each part is relatively inexpensive to replace. All of the cargo area doors have been reinforced with beefed-up hinges as well, which caused a lot of interest from potential buyers.

Another vehicle, well pair of vehicles that caused much interest were the new Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro, which are built on a new and shared platform. Vauxhall plans to build up to 55,000 of the vans a year at its site in Luton.

HGVs were also well-represented at the Show, with Mercedes-Benz bringing along examples of Antos, Atego, Actros and Arocs for the crowds to inspect.

Iveco had the new Trakker rough terrain construction truck on display and despite its rugged looks the Euro-6 newcomer featured a very comfy cab with a new console and ‘infotainment’ system.

Elsewhere, Nissan was in ebullient mode as a deal had been stuck just prior to the show opening to supply 100 of the brand-new e-NV200 electric van to British Gas following a successful trial. The firm hopes that more orders from the energy giant – and from others – will follow.

The overarching theme from all of the vehicle manufacturers was Euro-6. Either from truck manufacturers getting on with explaining the virtues of Euro-6 products already on sale, to van brands setting out plans for the roll-out of new Euro-6 ranges. Meeting the tough new standard might well have been a headache for engineers, but you wouldn’t have thought so from looking at the MAN stand. Festooned with material boasting of ‘Uberefficiency’ the firm had turned the technical challenge into a marketing opportunity, with a number of advisors on hand to explain how the new powertrains could give haulage firms a competitive edge.

Trailer lighting manufacturer Rubbolite celebrated its 90th birthday at the Show, with MD Aaron Rylance cutting a surreal birthday cake in the shape of a trailer’s light relay. Weird stunts aside, the firm was pleased to announce that production had recently been moved back to Harlow in the UK from Eastern Europe.

Running alongside the CV Show was Workshop 2014. This show featured, as you might expect lifts, parts and tools to keep the nation’s commercial fleet on the road. Of particular interest to visitors was the ‘Dura’ system of workshop cabinets. Similar to a fitted kitchen, steel rollerball units could be configured to however the client chose.

Diagnostic tools specialist, Eclipse Automotive Technology, used an unusual piece of performance art on its stand this year. A ‘living statue’ was posed on a plinth at the corner of the stand, but delegates passing too close got a surprise when the ‘statue’ woke up and made people jump. Whether this enticed people on to the stand or scarred them away, we are not sure…

Also in workshop, another intriguing display was a keysafe, which not only kept track of who had which vehicle… but also wouldn’t open unless the user blew a favourable score into a breathalyser!

The Show generally attracts a number of politicians – and this year the biggest hitter was Transport Minister Stephen Hammond. He toured the Show, hearing from a wide range of exhibitors and trade bodies on the industry’s most pressing issues. Other political visitors included Shadow Transport Minister Richard Burden MP and Stoke-on-Trent MP Rob Flello.

Perhaps the largest difference between this Show and previous years was the extravagant use of the outside display areas. Renault Trucks in particular had a magnificent display area where visitors could get a feel of the brand’s offerings in the fresh air. The stand also featured an excellent F1 simulator as well as the 1990s curious conversion – the Renault Espace F1 -fitted with an F1 engine, wheels and suspension.

Ford Commercial Vehicles also made the most of the outside space where customers could actually drive any of the firms LCV products. The aim was to get as many people ‘converted’ by showing a practical demonstration of its products – as well as being able to show sceptics that the dinky one-litre Ecoboost engine, which now features in some Transit models, can produce sufficient power and be enjoyable to drive.

Once again, the CV Show and Workshop was an informative, useful (and dare we say fun) way to make commercial purchasing decisions. We’re already looking forward to next year!

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