Volkswagen prepares the 2017 Crafter for its global launch
Following on from Delivery Magazine’s last issue where we were able to show early photographs of the 2017 Volkswagen Crafter, we now have more details on the vehicle that can be a total game changer for VW sales performance.
In its cooperative phase that saw VW and Mercedes-Benz share the production lines to manufacturer the Crafter and the Sprinter, the reliance of VW on its own engines and transmissions always left this particular German car and van maker a little behind in terms of specification and ability.
How many potential sales of the Crafter were lost purely due to the lack of an automatic transmission remains guesswork. But there’s no doubt that having to rely in a manual six-speed gearbox didn’t do the Crafter, or its Australian distribution network, any favours. It also failed to connect the grey nomads with the brand as a base for motorhomes – such is the fickleness of the older generation of buyers that have a preference for gear changing without driver intervention.
Prior to its official reveal at the IAA Show in Hanover, Delivery has learnt from Volkswagen that the new 2017 Crafter will be available in four base models, in three different length options and with a choice of three different roof heights.
From a previous spec that meant rear-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual gearbox, no matter what your own preferences might be, the 2017 Crafter will come in front-wheel-drive for the lighter weight models, rear-wheel-drive for the heavier weight classifications, and all-wheel-drive 4MOTION for those intent on heading into slippery places such as the snowfields, whether on holiday or to delivery the necessities of life to local outlets.
And yes, for the first time, Crafter will feature the availability of an automatic transmission, in addition to the ever-present, six-speed manual gearbox.
The new Crafter is based on a completely new design concept. It’s important in the commercial vehicle sector, in particular, that a design should “function” for various customer groups. With this in mind, the new Crafter was designed with fundamentally new commercial vehicle architecture for both the exterior and interior.
The design of the new Crafter is also heavily based on the idea that the Transporter, which forms the heart of the commercial vehicle portfolio, be given a big brother that displays never before seen quality in terms of exterior and interior surfaces, robustness and sophistication.
From an engine perspective, it’s diesel all the way as the choice for the Australian market, and, with climate change and emissions controls undoubtedly at the top of the company’s focus, the new Crafter will head straight to Euro 6 emissions levels.
For the first time, the new Crafter now offers an extremely wide range of derivatives, even in high tonnage versions.
The new “EA 288Nutz” 2.0-litre TDI engine was developed especially for the new Crafter and is available in four output classes. Customers can choose here between a 75 kW (102 PS), 90 kW (122 PS), and 103 kW (140 PS) engine – or opt for a biturbo TDI engine with output of 130 kW (177 PS).
The choice of engines also depends on which drive system is selected, whereby customers have a choice here between front, rear and all-wheel-drive (4MOTION), and can also choose either an automatic or manual gearbox.
Although the company is not releasing details of the automatic transmission at this stage, Delivery is predicting that it will not be based on the DSG twin-clutch AMT as used in the passenger car range, but will be the ZF eight-speed, full fluid torque converter automatic that is currently used by IVECO in the Daily, by Jaguar, and other prestige car makers.
All next-generation 2017 Crafters will be built at a new production facility in Wrzesnia, Poland. The manufacturing plant is the brand’s second production location in Poland – the other is the Volkswagen plant in Poznan Antoninek, which has been operating for more than 20 years now.
The Crafter plant is spread out over an area of approximately 540 acres, which corresponds to around 300 football fields. More than 3000 people will work at the Wrzesnia plant when the facility operates at full capacity. Several supply companies will also open up factories in the area, which will create additional jobs for the surrounding region.
The Crafter’s all-new EU 6 engines and a fundamentally new exterior design give the model the lowest consumption and emission figures in its vehicle class. The new Crafter also scores points with its robustness and low maintenance and repair costs, all of which have a positive effect on total cost of ownership over the vehicle life cycle.
Up to three different vehicle lengths are available, depending on the model chosen, and the closed body variants come with up to three different roof heights. This enables customers to configure their new Crafter exactly in line with their specific requirements, with the right combination of engine, gearbox, drive system, vehicle length and roof height to meet their needs.
The new Crafter sets entirely new standards for assistance systems in the segment for large vans.
The objective was to optimise occupant protection through the use of active and passive safety concepts in all payload situations. Thanks to an electro-mechanical steering system that’s being used for the first time in this vehicle class, the new Crafter comes with an extraordinarily large number of active driver assistance systems, such as ESP with trailer stabilisation, ACC Adaptive Cruise Control, the post-collision braking system, a side-wind compensation system (optional), the trailer manoeuvring assistant system and much more.
There’s plenty on offer in terms of passive safety as well, with front, side and head airbags for the driver and passengers and an extensive range of warning systems that include a reversing camera, a parking distance monitor and the Rear Traffic Alert system. Finally, LED headlights, cornering lights and Light Assist ensure a clear view of the road ahead at night.
The Crafter also comes with online services that are tailored to the specific needs of customers.