On the face of it, Iveco is having a disastrous year with sales of vehicles up to 3.5-tonnes gvw down 19% in an LCV sector that is rising by 13%. But things are not always what they seem.
The reason for the fall is not that the second-generation Daily heavy panel van is on run-out, but simply that one of Iveco’s biggest fleet clients happens to be buying fewer vans this year. Take that fleet out of the equation and the Daily continues to be a reasonably popular extra heavyweight contender, selling 1,352 year-to-date compared to 1,676 in 2013.
With a third-generation Daily set to arrive in the UK in September, the Italian manufacturer is expecting to make up the aforementioned sales shortfall and increase its market share again.
At the launch of the new Daily, Iveco product director Martin Flach told Fleet Van: “There are more than 8,000 different versions of the new Daily so everyone will be able to find the exact vehicle they need.
“We are confident that we will make up our sales losses by the end of this year as fleets realise what a fantastic vehicle this new Daily is.”
One problem that Iveco has always faced is that this vehicle is its only offering under 3.5-tonnes gvw, so fleets looking for a solus deal who need small vans as well as large ones will probably look elsewhere.
If they do, they may be missing a trick as Iveco is a sister company to Fiat, which does offer small vans, and in fact around 50% of Iveco dealers have the Fiat Professional franchise too.
Flach told us: “It’s true we offer only Daily and although we are related to Fiat, we are totally separate companies. However, with so many Iveco dealers being Fiat dealers too, if any fleets want a solus deal, they have only to go into one of these dealerships and being ‘cousins’ we can sort out any deal that fleets need, right from the smallest Fiat Fiorino right up to the 44-tonne Iveco Stralis.”
With Iveco being a truck manufacturer, Daily customers can take advantage of the extra truck aftersales care such as round-the-clock servicing and extended opening hours.
Also exclusive to Iveco is a breakdown service whereby drivers can call a free phone number and get straight through to someone who will relay any problems to the nearest Iveco dealer.
That dealer will then dispatch a mechanic and van with a comprehensive range of parts to the stricken vehicle, which in most cases will be repaired at the roadside.
With the exception of Mercedes-Benz, all the other manufacturers offer breakdown services from third-party suppliers such as the AA and RAC, who will normally tow the vehicle to a garage to be repaired.
So what exactly is on offer from the new Daily?
Unlike the recently facelifted triplets of Citroën Relay, Fiat Ducato and Peugeot Boxer, this van was designed from a blank sheet of paper and is the result of a 500 million euro investment.
One of the problems with the old Daily was that it was the only heavy panel van to have a ladder frame chassis and definitely had more leaning to a truck than a car when on the road.
The chassis remains, as do certain other best bits of the old model, but 80% of the body parts have been replaced.
This van now comes in five wheelbases and three roof heights for the van and six wheelbases for the chassis-cab.
Gross vehicle weights go from 3.3 tonnes up to 7.0 tonnes and load volumes go from seven cubic metres to 19.3cu m.
The big news is that there will be no price increase over the old models.
Such is Iveco’s determination to succeed with this new contender that it is prepared to take what will inevitably be quite a hit on front-end costs.
The Daily’s exterior has been totally redesigned with a stylish new grille and higher headlights, which should mean they don’t get smashed in low-speed bumps.
The windscreen is bigger to give a more commanding view of the road ahead and the bottom of the van is completely swathed in black plastic, which should ensure that costs are kept to a minimum when any knocks and scrapes start appearing.
The cabin is completely new and features a more car-like dashboard.
The seats have been lowered by 15mm and the steering wheel is 20mm smaller and set at a more vertical angle to give the van a more car-like feel.
I quite liked the macho chunkiness of the old Daily and felt like a real trucker driving it, but the trend nowadays is for a ‘car’ feel and Iveco inevitably must follow.
On our test drives I found all the seats incredibly comfortable and supportive.
There are three storage areas on top of the dash, an overhead parcel shelf and coffee cup holders on both sides. There isn’t a 12v take-off on top of the dash as in the new Ford Transit though.
I also noticed that the side door pockets and drinks bottle bin couldn’t be accessed on the passenger side with the door shut as it is covered by the edge of the passenger seat.
In the back, our test models all had ply-lining and wipe-clean plastic floors, which will be available as optional extras, and plenty of load-lashing eyes, both on the floor and sides of the cargo area.
Engines are either 2.3-litre or 3.0-litre units with power outputs ranging from 106hp to 205hp.
The 3.0-litre units can be ordered as Euro6 emission compliant, which means they will also have an AdBlue tank. Expect a price premium of around £1,000 for these models. All the other engines are Euro 5b+.
I tried the dropside 126hp short wheelbase, the long wheelbase high-roof 205hp and short wheelbase 146hp versions and all models were noticeably quieter, smoother and better handling than the models they replace.
Although the engines are basically unchanged from the old models, certain tweaks such as the fitment of eco tyres and better aerodynamics mean this new version is between 5.5% and 14% more fuel efficient.
I usually recommend lower-powered models for fleet purposes, but bearing in mind that these vehicles will probably have a tough fleet life, I’d plump for the 146hp.
It will have enough power for even the heaviest loads on hilly routes.
Electronic stability control is standard.