CAUGHT IN TRAFIC |TRANSPORT NEWS – The latest developments in the world of LCVs from France, Japan and India

Australia’s best-selling medium-sized European van, the Renault Trafic, is gaining a new sibling as the French manufacturer rejigs its Trafic range, enabling buyers to take advantage of Government incentives for tax breaks when purchasing new equipment.

Into the Renault model mix comes an 85 kW long-wheelbase variant, extending the range lengthwise from the short-wheelbase 5.2-cubic-metre version that uses the same 85kW single turbo diesel engine, along with the similarly sized 66 kW Trader Life model.

And there’s more. All twin-turbo Trafics, and any Trafic 85 kW versions with optional satellite navigation, arriving in Australia from May, now include Apple CarPlay.

The new 85LWB has been priced from $35,990 (driveaway) during the run to the end of the financial year. This makes it a full $4000 cheaper than the twin-turbo Trafic 103LWB which is currently selling for $39,990 (driveaway).

“The 85LWB model is one we’ve been keen to add to the range for some time,” said Lyndon Healey, Product Manager for Renault Australia LCV.

“It provides a more affordable long-wheelbase option for Trafic customers who might operate in environments where power is less important, or those who aren’t carrying the heaviest loads, but need the extra space that the 6 cu. m capacity provides. Even so, the 85LWB can carry a payload of up to 1294 kg and tow two tonnes.

“Like the 85SWB model, the 85LWB is well-equipped as standard and comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, 12-month or 30,000 km service intervals, and frugally uses only 6.5 litres of diesel per 100km.

“When you compare the Renault Trafic 85LWB with its direct rivals on price, specification, load capacities and running costs, the Trafic delivers a pretty compelling package.”

The Renault Trafic is now available in 66SWB (Trader Life), 85SWB, 85LWB, 103SWB, 103LWB, 103Crew and 103Crew Lifestyle variants. For a limited time, the Trafic 66 Trader life is available from $29,990 (driveaway), making it eligible for the instant write-off for SME buyers, due to the Federal Government’s recently-enhanced $30,000 limit for small businesses.

Last-kilometre delivery made EZ

Now it’s time to change tack, from medium van deliveries to the last kilometre courier, and introduce the Renault EZ-FLEX.

 Driven by the realisation that the volume of transported goods in the world is expected to quadruple by 2050, Renault has presented its vision of the future of urban delivery in 2030.

As a possible solution for end-of-the-line deliveries, the EZ-FLEX makes impressive use of limited space within inner cities through having an overall length of 3.86 metres, 1.65 m width and 1.88 m height, making it easier to pilot through congested streets and even walkways. Its 4.5-metre turning circle and 3 cu. m load capacity makes for exceptional manoeuvrability and functionality.

With full integration into the world of smartphones, it has great vision and superb access for the driver. Rear loading height is 760 mm and rear space configuration is adaptable, designed to meet the different needs of the professionals by whom the vehicle will be used.

As an electric vehicle, EZ-FLEX can access the restricted-area city centres of Europe, offering a range of 150 km adapted to the needs of urban delivery.

Renault will be making a dozen EZ-FLEX vehicles available to be lent to various professionals, companies, cities and municipalities in Europe, in an experiment expected to last about two years.

During this evaluation, onboard sensors will monitor all activities and usage to collect different data types such as geolocation, mileage, range, use of openings, speed, stops, etc. This data will then be transferred via the vehicle’s connected system, either in real time or once per day, to understand the realities of daily use.

Say Hi to the new Ace

Toyota’s media machine is gearing up to introduce the new replacement for the long-standing HiAce medium van and commuter bus product range.

Due to land in Australia mid-year, it’s the first new version of HiAce for 15 years, ample testimony to the premise that comfort and safety is not the big drawcard when a vehicle is cheap to buy and seldom breaks down.

As aficionados of medium-sized panel vans know only too well, Toyota and fellow Japanese LCV manufacturer Mitsubishi used to produce well-liked medium vans with semi-bonneted designs. There’s a big benefit to an operator to be able to slide across from the driver’s seat to exit on the kerb side, but that has not been an option with cab-over engine designs such as HiAce and Express.

Now, with the new HiAce, the company has rediscovered the advantages of the semi-bonneted design and stepped up its level of competition for the next decade.

“We focused on making the new-generation vehicle an even better tool of trade through enhanced design, increased performance, a quiet cabin, smooth ride and improved handling and agility,” said Toyota Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley.

“It’s also more refined, convenient and comfortable than ever, recognising that many owners rely on their HiAce as a mobile office and spend most of their working day inside their vehicle.”

Toyota claims the HiAce is the world’s best-selling compact commercial van, with independent studies (Glass’s Guide 2019) showing that HiAce has the strongest resale value in its segment, retaining 68 per cent of its value after four years.

Priced from $38,640, the new nine-model HiAce range kicks off with the LWB (long wheelbase) Van with a choice of V6 petrol or four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines, and six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.

The LWB Crew Van adds a second row of seats to carry up to four passengers and driver, powered by the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed auto driving the rear wheels.

Starting at $48,640, the automatic-only SLWB (super-long wheelbase) Van provides up to 9.0 cubic metres of cargo capacity and is also offered with petrol or turbo-diesel power.

The Toyota Safety Sense suite of features includes a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist and auto high beam.

Further standard safety features include cruise control, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and up to nine airbags, depending on the model. All versions now feature height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt-and-telescopic adjustable steering wheel, manual air conditioning and extensive storage areas with big front door bins and 1.5-litre bottle holders.

In addition to offering a three-position second-row bench seat with a 60/40 split-fold seatback, the Crew Van also gains rear side curtain airbags, two rear ISOFIX child restraint anchors, opening rear windows and a rear vent for the air conditioning.

Toyota will continue to offer a passenger variant, with the Commuter available in two grades, both powered by the turbo-diesel/automatic transmission powertrain.

Based on the SLWB platform, the 12-seat Commuter incorporates passenger comfort features including reclining seat backs, front and rear interior lights, rear air conditioning with vents for every seat position, and floor carpet throughout.

Stand by for a first drive evaluation in the August issue of Delivery.


 Mahindra launches limited-edition Pikup

And finally to India, where Mahindra has announced the release of its limited-edition black mHawk Pikup.

National Manager Ankit Taneja said: “We are very excited to announce that this is the first time that Mahindra has offered a limited-edition vehicle to the Australian public. It was designed in Australia, for Australian conditions.”

The Aussie spec is pretty much standardised on a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and six-speed manual transmission, but a raid of the aftermarket supply goodie box has added all-new 17-inch black rims, black alloy sports bar and black side steps, plus a custom black decal set, black flares and a factory black bullbar.

Packaged with a five-year limited warranty and roadside assist, other features include sat nav, reverse camera and ISOFIX mounts. Pricing starts from $38,990.

Mahindra is also offering a great deal for all tradies for a limited time with a 4×2 Single Cab S6 Turbo Diesel Ute from just $23,990 (driveaway).

This all-inclusive tradies’ option brings with it a general-purpose aluminium tray, Bluetooth and cruise control, plus a free ladder rack and towbar.

Tradies can also opt for a 4×4 Single Cab S6 Turbo Diesel at only $26,990, including a free general-purpose aluminium tray (worth over $2000 in retail value).

All Mahindra Pikup vehicles have an Eaton locking rear differential as standard and feature a braked towing capacity of up to 2.5 tonnes and a payload of 1 tonne.

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