SMALL ALTERNATIVES

Delivery checks out VW’s Caddy upgrade aiming for a mid-year release.

It’s always good to be a trailblazer, and, in the case of the small van segment, it was Volkswagen that made all the initial running. Caddy focused buyer attention on the advantages of not hauling a one-tonne van around the centre of the city when a smaller alternative could do the job just as well, or better, when it came to finding a parking spot.

Being a trailblazer does have its disadvantages though, as once the market has been identified and a buyer demographic established, it’s then open slather for any other manufacturer to try to take some of the established market share.

Volkswagen is currently on a major expansion role as each year it attempts to outdo it’s own performance from the previous year. Despite GFCs, European economic collapses, Eastern European wars and various other dilemmas,VW-Caddy-8

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles delivered 444,900 vehicles to customers all over the world in the 2014 financial year. This corresponds to a rise of two percent over the previous year. In 2013, the brand sold 436,000 vehicles. In particular, there was a significant increase in sales to Western Europe (+6.5 percent) with a total of 292,000 units compared to the previous year.

The Volkswagen Caddy consolidated its position with delivery of 148,900 vehicles (2013: 146,600; +1.6 percent). As a result, production for the Volkswagen Caddy ran at full capacity. Around 1.5 million of the award-winning previous generation have been sold worldwide during its eleven years in production.

In order to keep the sales kettle on the boil, VW in Europe has previewed the fourth generation of the Caddy, and it’s due for release into Australia in the middle of this year.

Caddy engines now move to Euro 6 emissions standards, and across the range the engine options available include four TDI diesel versions of the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Their performance ranges from 55 kW/75 hp to the top engine with 110 kW/150 hp. There’s an additional choice globally of three petrol engines, ranging from the 1.2-litre four-cylinder TSI with 62 kW/84 hp and the 1.0-litre three-cylinder TSI with 75 kW/102 hp, up to the larger 1.4-litre TSI four-cylinder with a power output of 92 kW/125 hp.

Recording the lowest fuel consumption is the Caddy panel van BlueMotion, specially developed for inner-city deliveries.

“With its low fuel consumption of less than 4 l/100 km, the new Caddy is setting a new standard,” explains Dr. Eckhard Scholz, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

“Even the new 1.4-litre TGI, successor to the highly popular Caddy EcoFuel, consumes only 4.1 kg of natural gas per 100 kilometres. Through downsizing and turbochargers, it offers added power compared with its predecessor while consuming up to 28 percent less fuel.”

VW-Caddy-9In the new Caddy numerous new safety and comfort features have been added to protect the occupants and support the driver.

One of these is the ‘Front Assist’ surroundings monitoring system, including City Emergency Braking. If the driver fails to see an obstacle below a speed of 30 km/h, the system automatically applies the brakes and, ideally, will prevent any collisions entirely. In the passenger-car versions, for example, the new Caddy additionally comes fitted with side and curtain airbags.

According to Volkswagen, approximately 22 percent of all accidents involving injuries are collisions with more than one obstacle. In order to minimise the risk related to this scenario, the award-winning multi-collision brake system is included as standard in the new Caddy. After a collision, it automatically initiates braking if the driver is no longer able to take action.

Other available options are the ‘Light Assist’ and ‘Driver Alert’ systems. The latter recognises any deviations from normal driving behaviour and recommends that the driver should take a break when apparently necessary. Also available is the option of a heated windscreen, which helps to ensure a permanently good view.

In the case of the optional Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), a radar sensor monitors the distance and relative speed to vehicles in front. Used with the DSG, the ACC system can also slow the vehicle down, for example in queues or traffic jam situations, to a complete stop.

In combination with the Composition Colour and Composition Media radios, and with the Discover Media radio-navigation system, customers are able to order a reversing camera. The optional ‘Park Assist’ system enables automated parallel parking as well as parking at right-angles to the carriageway.

As with most mid-term upgrades there’s a styling redesign with sharpened folds and clearly defined surfaces. The redesigned front and the distinctively presented rear additionally give the new compact van an unmistakable character – further distinguished by the new look of the front and rear lights.

In keeping with the expressive exterior, the vehicle’s interior also features accentuated lines and shapes. Striking decorative trims with integrated air vents and a new generation of infotainment equipment underline the new Caddy’s modern look. VW-Caddy_2

As fuel prices plummet the idea of buying an electric vehicle seems to have lost any impetus. Renault is actively pursuing a specific market with Australia Post in Australia with an electric version of its Kangoo. While VW, not to be left out, released details last year of its electrically-powered city delivery van called the ‘e-load up!’

With four doors, four wheels, and despite very small outer dimensions, it offers quite an acceptable cargo space, with a seat for the driver, a fold-up passenger seat and over 1.0 m3 of space in the back.

Its electric motor also makes driving possible in the zero-emission zones that exist in some European cities. This urban delivery van weighs 1,164 kg and can carry a total load of 306 kg – which certainly ought to be enough for any pizzas or parcels!

It is powered by an almost silent electric motor with maximum power output of 60 kW/82 PS. Continual output is 40 kW/55 PS. It has maximum torque of 210 Nm, and, like all electrically powered vehicles, that torque figure is available from start-up, giving it an acceleration figure from 0 to 100 km/h within 12.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 km/h. The lithium-ion battery integrated into the floor has a storage capacity of 18.7 kWh. Thanks to the low vehicle weight, the e-load up! can travel up to 160 kilometres (NEFC) on a single charge.

The European manufacturers have already collaborated to approve and introduce a universal charging system. It supports both direct and alternating current charging, so that the vehicle can be charged at the majority of charging stations, regardless of electricity source or charging speed on offer. In this way, the e-load up! can be back to 80 percent of its battery capacity in just 30 minutes.

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