Concept vehicles, future technology and the future of electro-mobility are the hot topics at this year’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, which opens to the trade and public today (September 20).
There was much interest in Volkswagen’s ID Buzz Cargo concept, a load-carrying variant of the ID Buzz minibus which was shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.
The Buzz Cargo echoes the appearance of the traditional Volkswagen Type 2 ‘Microbus’, which has been in continuous production for almost 70 years and continues to be built in South America.
It represents a technological revolution, though, with an all-electric powertrain and Level 4 autonomous driving features. The company says that a production version of the ID Buzz could be in showrooms as early as 2021.
Nissan is also exhibiting a concept vehicle in the form of the Navara Dark Sky concept, which features a mobile astronomy lab.
Built in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Navara Dark Sky Concept incorporates an ‘observatory-class’ telescope on a bespoke trailer.
It also features Nissan’s ProPilot driver assist technology, which in this case has been re-engineered and upgraded to offer safe and efficient towing.
The ESA is currently creating an intricate map of the heavens with its Gaia satellite – and has already located more than a billion stars. The Navara Dark Sky Concept has been designed to aid astronomers in making follow-up observations of the night skies in difficult-to-access locations away from light pollution – areas known as ‘dark sky’ locations.
Renault’s Hannover concept vehicle is even more extreme – the EZ-PRO is a fully robotic vehicle that operates in convoy with others, and has an interchangeable ‘pod’ body shell that can be switched according to its purpose.
The fleet of driverless robo-pods either follow each other by platooning or can move independently. The EZ-PRO features customisable modules that meet a wide variety of specific business customer needs: for specialists in delivery and last mile logistics, but also for retailers, craftsmen and entrepreneurs, claims the manufacturer.
Large goods vehicle engine giant, Cummins, is focusing on diesel at the show. The Cummins technology display features a concept emissions control system capable of minimising emissions to levels previously thought unfeasible, including a possible next level of Euro VII regulations anticipated during the coming decade. It claims the technology is the next leap forward in diesel engine evolution.
Meanwhile, Hyundai revealed its bold fuel cell truck on the show’s press day, claiming that it would use the technology to establish the Hyundai truck brand in Europe. It has yet to confirm if a right-hand-drive variant will appear for the UK market, though.
As far as new production vehicles go, two new vans are being revealed at the show – the facelifted two-tonne Ford Transit, which gets new front end styling and an upgraded cabin, along with the van variant of the new Vauxhall Combo, which was revealed earlier this year as a passenger vehicle. Both will be in showrooms before the end of the year. Ford is also showing the production version of the Plug-in Hybrid Transit Custom, which is currently undergoing trials in London.
German EV company Streetscooter cemented its partnership with Ford by revealing the Streetscooter XL, which uses a lithium-ion battery pack and is based on the Ford Transit chassis cab, with a panelled box body. It will go into service with delivery giant DHL, which owns the Streetscooter brand.
Volvo used the show to launch its new bus platform, which is designed to work with Euro 6 diesel or electric powertrains, and will form the basis of its next range of electric buses.
Electro-mobility is also the talk of the show from DAF Trucks, which is launching the CF Electric at the expo.
The CF Electric is a 4×2 tractor unit developed for up to 40-tonne GCW distribution applications within urban areas. The vehicle uses powertrain specialist VDL’s E-Power Technology for fully electric operation. It uses a 10 kW electric motor drawing energy from a 170 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The CF Electric has a range of approximately 100 kilometers – suitable for high volume distribution applications. Fast charging of the batteries can be performed in 30 minutes, while a full charge can be completed in 1.5 hours. The first series of CF Electric trucks will be put into field test operation with customers this year.
Turkish truck manufacturer BMC is also exhibiting new technology at the show, with a new range of lorries that it says will compete with the major European brands as it expands its distribution network, though plans to sell the trucks in the UK are as yet unconfirmed.
One truck that will definitely be on sale in the UK, though, is the new Mercedes Actros, which is also making its debut at the show. The large Mercedes Truck features cameras instead of rear view mirrors, which allow the driver to see fully alongside both flanks of the truck – claiming a big advance in cyclist and pedestrian safety.
Convertors have a strong presence at the show, too, with US temperature controlled specialists Thermo-King teaming up with Northgate Vehicle Rentals to reveal a fully-electric fridge van, based on a Citroen Berlingo EV. The refrigeration unit uses a power take-off from the van’s battery system to ensure emissions and noise-free operation.
The IAA Commercial Vehicle Show remains open until next Thursday, September 27.