New models - Volkswagen - Crafter
Driven: New auto to boost Volkswagen Crafter sales
All-new second-gen Volkswagen Crafter to increase volume four-fold by 2022
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18 Jul 2018
By ROBBIE WALLIS in AUCKLAND
VOLKSWAGEN Australia says a new eight-speed automatic transmission to be rolled out across the all-new Crafter range will help increase the large van’s sales volume by as much as four times as it targets new fleet buyers.
The German car-maker’s largest van has been offered without an automatic transmission since 2013, when stock of its Shiftmatic automatic transmission ran dry, leaving the six-speed manual transmission as its only option.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia director Carlos Santos told GoAuto at the Crafter launch in Auckland this week that he believed the big commercial van would experience a significant lift in sales in the future.
“I think from an average of around 580 per year, which is what we’ve been doing over the past few years with the manual only, I think we’ll build sensibly and slowly to 2000 units by 2022, I think that’s probably conservative,” he said.
“It really depends on how well we go with getting into the fleet space, and how quickly we can get into interrupting those buying cycles.
When asked if he expected Volkswagen to move higher up the segment sales ladder, Mr Santos replied “absolutely”.
“The skew towards automatic is now 54 per cent auto (up from four per cent in 2009). If you can sell nearly 600 manuals without an automatic, I think you can at least double that with an auto, and probably triple it pretty quickly.”
Mr Santos said that he could see the segment skew even more towards automatic in the future, up to 70 or 80 per cent. He anticipated that once the Crafter range is fully integrated in the market with new fleet contracts up and running, it would be the second best-selling large van behind the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which shared its underpinnings with the first-generation Crafter.
“If I could see into the future I would see Crafter and Sprinter being the two major players in the segment,” he said.
The new Crafter will be offered in a range of body styles, vehicle lengths and heights, engine outputs, transmissions and drivelines, totalling 59 variants.
The first examples arrived in Australia in January with the soft launch of two Runner van variants starting from $48,490 plus on-roads, while the introduction of the complete range now means pricing starts at $48,290 for the entry-level single cab-chassis and goes as high as $71,490 plus on-roads for the more powerful, automatic, dual-tyre, long wheelbase with overhang van.
Powering the Crafter range is Volkswagen’s EA288 Commercial 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine offered in two states of tune – either 103kW/340Nm or the twin-turbo 130kW/410Nm. A catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter help to keep emissions down.
As mentioned, two transmission are available – a six-speed manual or eight-speed torque-convertor automatic – with the auto incurring a $3000 premium. At launch, the range will be offered with front-drive variants only, to be followed by 4Motion all-paw versions in coming months and rear-drive options in the first quarter of 2019.
Five body styles will be available, consisting of three vans – medium wheelbase, large wheelbase and large wheelbase with overhang – as well as single- and dual-cab chassis versions. The vans come with three different roof heights, while the cab-chassis versions can be specified with a medium or long wheelbase.
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) ranges between 3550kg and 4490kg, while payloads vary between 1115kg and 2392kg. The largest van variant comes with a cargo capacity of 18.4 cubic metres, while the cab-chassis tray measures up to 8.8 square metres.
The old hydraulic power steering set-up has been swapped out in favour of a new speed-adjusted electromechanical steering configuration, which helps improve handling in tight spaces and fuel efficiency, as well as enabling a new suite of active safety features.
Functions such as parking assistant and driver attention alert are now offered as standard alongside autonomous emergency braking and a multi-collision brake system. Adaptive cruise control, active lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, crosswind assist and active blind-spot monitor are offered as an option.
Other safety features include six airbags, front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera (van only), the latter of which is standard only on van variants. LED headlights and cornering foglights are available as an option.
Inside, the Crafter gains an 8.0-inch multimedia infotainment system with AppLink compatibility, voice control, proximity sensors, up to three 12V ports, auxiliary and USB compatibility and multiple storage options. Satellite navigation and the new ErgoActive suspended seat can be had as an option.
For those looking for additional visual flair, the Crafter can be optioned with the Trendline package which includes a chrome grille, chrome finishes on switchgear, foglights and a third 12V port.
The new-generation Crafter is offered with a number of factory-backed conversion options to suit a range of different business needs such as refrigerated transport, disability access and other retrofitted layouts, that can be sold through the dealer. Volkswagen has a dedicated factory in Hannover that handles conversions.
Front-drive versions are available for sale now, while the full range will be completed by the first quarter of 2019.
2018 Volkswagen Crafter pricing*
*Excludes on-road costs
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