With the cancellation of the AutoRAI Show this year, manufacturers and suppliers in the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) have turned their attention to the 2017 Brussels Motors Show to exhibit all their latest models and services.
More than 440,000 people passed through the gates during the eight-day event to see what the 80 exhibitors had to offer. The majority of manufacturers were in attendance, with some using the event to premiere new vehicles.
Vans and conversions
The big news regarding panel vans was the unveiling of the all-new Renault Master ZE and the second-generation Kangoo ZE. Both vehicles feature a newly-developed 33kWh lithium-ion battery, which equates to a range of around 168 miles on the smaller Kangoo and 124 miles on the Master, although the Master has a slightly more powerful output of 77PS compared to the Kangoo’s 62PS.
Another electric vehicle that was attracting attention was the MT, launched by a recent start-up company called Addax Motors. The compact truck is aimed at local authorities and country estates, and Addax soon wants to expand out of its home market of Belgium into new territories, including the UK.
In contrast to the larger electric Renault vans, the MT has a choice of two outputs: 8kW/100Nm and 9kW/180Nm. These offer a range of between 80 and 110km (50-68 miles), with an impressive 1,000kg payload and a choice of two load lengths (2,150mm and 2,420mm).
Like the Renault vans, the MT is backed by a five year warranty.
Iveco was demonstrating the versatility of its Daily range, with panel vans, box vans, tippers and even a 7.0-tonne car transporter on its stand. Carrying a first generation model from 1978, the chassis was fitted with a Boniface Engineering car transporter body and offers a 5,100mm load length and a 3.4-tonne payload.
As well as the large number of makes that exhibit light commercial vehicles on their own stands, the ‘Van Solutions’ display in Hall 3 drew attention to those who make or convert and equip these vehicles.
Most of these were local bodybuilders that aren’t represented in the UK, but they have developed a number of innovative designs.
One such example was a Transporter T6 with an electric driveline, carried out by ABTe, and a box body conversion from Smart Box. An extra axle has been added so the payload isn’t harmed by the weight of the battery, and Smart Box says it is the perfect solution for urban delivery companies.
One name that was familiar was Scattolini – one of Europe’s leading bodybuilders. It had developed a three-way tipper for the Transporter, which featured exclusive design pillars, screwed and removable both at the front and rear so they can be easily replaced.
This year looks set to follow on from 2016 as another big one for pick-up trucks if the Brussels Motor Show is anything to go by. Isuzu took the opportunity to display the D-Max’s all-new 1.9 litre engine, which is set to hit UK dealerships in the summer.
Although it is a considerable downsize from the current 2.5-litre (165PS/400Nm) unit, Isuzu argues the new engine is far more fuel efficient and cleaner, without compromising on performance. The power has increased slightly to 166PS, although the torque has been reduced to 360Nm, while fuel economy is around 10% better (around 40mpg) which makes it a more attractive option for fleet customers.
The product marketing team at Nissan recently said they were surprised at how well the top-spec Navara models were selling. Approximately 90% of Navara sales are with the flagship Tekna trim and it is therefore no surprise that Nissan has decided to launch a limited edition model. The Trek -1° is based on the Tekna and the differences are mainly cosmetic (black sport styling bars, LED spot lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, etc.), although there is also a load bed cover which is hinged at the cab end.
Light to medium trucks
In Hall 1, the ‘Truck & Transport’ show took place, and all the major players (DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Renault Trucks, Scania and Volvo Trucks) were represented as well as some of the smaller names like Fuso and Isuzu.
The focus on the DAF stand was the LF urban distribution truck. Taking pride of place was a 4x2 sleeper cab chassis, fitted with the most powerful 215PS/850Nm output of the 4.5-litre PX-5 engine. For the class of 14 to 16 tonnes, nine wheelbase variants are available, ranging from 3,250mm to 6,300mm.
Also on the Isuzu stand was the N-Series, also known as the ‘Grafter’ in the UK, fitted with a locally sourced three-way tipper. Isuzu performs well in the 3.5-tonne tipper market, as its light chassis means it can carry up to 1,245kg.
Fellow Japanese manufacturer Fuso was also exhibiting in the same hall. Fuso has focused a lot of its attention, and capital, on alternative fuels over recent years, and the Eco Hybrid took pride and place on the stand. The 152PS/370Nm 3.0-litre engine, developed by Fiat Powertrains, is complemented by a 54PS/200Nm electric motor to offer an increased fuel economy of 38mpg.
Renault Trucks has the most comprehensive construction range of any truck manufacturer, and it was keen to demonstrate this at Brussels. The lighter of its two construction trucks, the C-Range (as opposed to the more extreme K-Range), was on display in day cab form and the 446PS 13.0-litre DTi engine.
The focus of the MAN stand was also on construction. The HydroDrive system, showcased on an MAN TGS, comprises of a hydropump on the gearbox output that supplies the wheel hub drives on the front axle to provides extra traction for trucks on slippery or rough terrain, or even uneven surfaces like dirt tracks.