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In a major boost for the town, Luton will begin production of new electric models next year for the entire range of Stellantis medium vans sold in the UK.

The plant will mostly be producing right-hand-drive versions of the Stellantis range of vans that include the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric, Peugeot E-Expert, Citroën ë-Dispatch and Fiat Professional E-Scudo. However, the site will also be used to produce some left-hand-drive versions of the same models for export as well as the Opel Vivaro Electric.

Production will begin in the first half of 2025 in limited numbers, and the electric vans will be produced alongside their internal combustion engine counterparts.

Luton joins Ellesmere Port as the second electric model manufacturing site for Stellantis vans in the UK.

Ellesmere Port was announced as the manufacturing site for all versions of the Citroen e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Partner, Fiat e-Doblo and Vauxhall Combo Electric in September last year, following a £100m investment to transform the plant for EV production. It is also became the first Stellantis plant globally to be dedicated to electric vehicle manufacturing.

Stellantis is currently the best-selling van manufacturer in Europe with a 30.4% market share in 2023. Their electric vehicles also have a 38.8% of the European market, while in the UK that figure rises to 47.9%. Vauxhall was the best-selling electric van manufacturer with 6,402 sales out of Stellantis' total UK sales of 10,272 vans. The majority of Vauxhall's electric van sales were for the Vivaro Electric as the number one electric van in the UK.

Vauxhall's Luton plant began life in 1905 and have been producing the Vivaro van since 2001. When Stellantis acquired Vauxhall and production was switched over from producing Renault-based vans to the Peugeot-Citroen model, the plant also took on group production of medium-sized vans, adding the Fiat Scudo in 2022.

Mark Noble, Luton Plant Director & Stellantis UK Manufacturing Lead, said: “Following the transformation of our Ellesmere Port facility to produce all-electric compact vans, I’m pleased to announce that we will commence limited production of our medium electric van in Luton from next year, when the first customer vehicles will roll off the production line. This is a fitting way to mark Luton’s 120th anniversary.”

Luton produced more than 90,000 vans last year, all of which were ICE models.

Ford has revealed the first pictures and details of the eagerly anticipated Ford Transit Custom MS-RT van.

MS-RT editions of the mid-size van are something of an icon in the range owing to the motorsport inspired looks of the vehicle.

Designed as a collaboration between Ford and M-Sport, the MS-RT Transit Custom is the most eye-catching van in the line-up, sitting above the Transit Custom Sport. It will be available as both a diesel and electric version.

The fully electric Ford E-Transit Custom MS-RT can lay claim to being the highest powered Ford Transit Custom to-date. It gets a 210kW (282hp) electric motor that powers the rear wheels. It gets selectable drive modes to tone down the power when not needed with a 160kW Normal mode and 100kW when in Eco mode.

Ford Transit Custom MS-RT on track at sunset

The diesel version of the MS-RT Transit Custom gets the standard 2-litre EcoBlue diesel engine. It remains unaltered from the standard van with a 168hp output and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. There’s optional all-wheel drive, or front-wheel drive. A 148hp version will also be available along with a n MS-RT version of the recently revealed Transit Custom PHEV. That model has a 230hp plug-in hybrid powertrain that uses a 2.5-litre petrol engine and a 11.8kWh battery.

Of course, the Transit Custom MS-RT isn’t really about engines and power, it is about appearance. Its exterior styling is all about rally-inspired aggressiveness. It gets an aerodynamic front bumper with integrated spoiler, sports side skirts and a new sports rear quarter. This includes a bumper with integrated diffuser.

Naturally there’s a motorsport-inspired rear spoiler that has been optimised for airflow and plenty of downforce to keep the Transit Custom MS-RT and all your tools firmly stuck to the road. Electric van models will also get an additional LED light strip between the headlights.

Special anthracite 19-inch alloy wheels – which are a 0.5-inches wider than regular Transit Custom Sport wheels – sit beneath wider wheelarches. Each wheel is also more than 1kg lighter and comes with commercial-rated 235/45 R19 Goodyear Eagle Sport tyres.

Despite all the upgrades, it’s still a proper working van and offers the full Ford Transit Custom dimensions of up to 6.8m3 maximum load space. The MS-RT Transit Custom payload is up to 1,124kg.

On the inside it gets sporty new front seats with non-animal Eco-Leather, suede, MS-RT logos and blue stitching. Signature MS-RT colours at launch will including vivid Yellow Green and MS-RT Blue.  The van will also come with gloss black mirror caps and door handles as standard as well as MS-RT Blue painted brake callipers.

The Transit Custom MS-RT will be sold through Ford Pro dealers and undergoes final assembly and finishing at a dedicated new facility located on the Ford Dagenham Estate in the UK, right next to the HQ for Ford Pro’s engineering team.

UK demand for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) surged by 21.0% in 2023, reaching 341,455 units, as per the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Each month, more businesses invested in fleet renewal compared to the previous year, resulting in a record influx of zero-emission vans onto Britain’s roads.

In 2023, an additional 59,316 LCVs of various types and sizes were registered compared to 2022, following a £2 billion increase in spending by companies fulfilling essential roles in the economy, spanning from local trades to online delivery services. December notably experienced a 36.1% surge in demand, marking the strongest month since 2015. As a result of increased vehicle investment throughout the year, 2023 witnessed the highest demand for new vans since the sector’s post-pandemic recovery in 2021, with the market just -6.6% below 2019 levels.

Demand for the largest vans (weighing more than 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes) continued to rise by 9.4%, representing 66.9% of all new van registrations, driven by operators opting for payload efficiencies. Medium-sized vans (above two tonnes to 2.5 tonnes) saw the largest growth, surging by 78.4% to 57,992 units, catering to urban operators' requirements for heavy load carrying capacity and smaller vehicle sizes.

New battery electric vans (BEVs) witnessed a positive trend, reaching record volumes with a 21.0% increase to 20,253 units, constituting 5.9% of the market. December saw a remarkable 73.8% surge in BEV uptake, with the greenest vehicles representing 10.0% of registrations, marking the second-highest monthly BEV share.

The Ford Transit Custom was the best-selling model of the year, followed by its larger sibling the Ford Transit dimensions. Third place in the rankings went to the Vauxhall Vivaro dimensions and the first and only pick-up truck in the top ten was the Ford Ranger.

Despite these advancements, the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, mandating 10% of every van manufacturer’s sales to be BEVs this year, poses challenges. Flatlined BEV market share in 2023 compared to 2022 highlights the need to align LCV demand with supply, necessitating immediate action to address barriers to BEV uptake, particularly the shortage of van-suitable public chargers. A sustained commitment to the Plug-in Van Grant is essential for facilitating a seamless transition across all sectors and regions of the country.

Nissan has revealed its next generation of large van, the Nissan Interstar. Built on an entirely new platform, the Interstar replaces the Nissan NV400 model and is a sister-model to the Renault Master and Renault Master E-Tech.

Here's what you need to know about Nissan's new large van.

Who designed it?

The design was done in London at Nissan Design Europe in Paddington. The main focus is on the front three-quarters. The designers have tried to combine the interlocking grille, from the existing range of commercial vehicles, with the new generation of V-Motion grilles from the passenger cars – implemented through the lighting and integration with the headlamps.

The grille takes up the full width of the vehicle which has a big impact on the design, and the name Interstar is on the grille. It’s also the first time Nissan has had an electric vehicle in the large van sector with the Interstar-e

What’s going on with the lower bumper?

There are definitely a lot of vertical lines going on. Nissan says that these are air curtains designed to improve the aerodynamics of the vehicle and improve the airflow around the vehicle. Aerodynamics is the key watchword, with a tapered rear of the vehicle and new aerodynamic mirrors. Overall, there’s a 20% improvement in aerodynamics which improves both the electric and diesel powertrain efficiency.

Nissan Intersar front bumper

What’s new about the interior?

Nissan says all areas of the cabin have been improved with more space around the driver and elbow room at the windows.

It’s a new generation of interior, that’s very modern and driver centric with a HGV feel to the layout. There’s also a 10-inch main central display with a 7-in digital dash display for the EV.

What engines are there?

There’s a new M920 diesel engine with a single turbo. That’s a 2-litre diesel engine with 130hp, 150hp and 170hp outputs. Standard with a manual gearbox but also available with a 9-speed automatic from ZF that replaces the old robotised manual auto – only available with the 150hp and 170hp versions.

What battery and motors does the Interstar-e have?

There are two different battery sizes available in the Nissan Interstar-e with a 40kWh battery offering 200km claimed range, or a 87kWh battery with a claimed range of 460km (285 miles).

The smaller battery gets a 96kW battery with 300Nm of torque. The larger battery gets a 105kW motor that also produces 300Nm of torque.

Details on charging

The small battery charges at 50kW while the larger battery can cope with up to 130kW. At the fastest speeds it can add 252km of range in just 30 minutes. AC charging is at 11kW and 22kW charging are both available for the larger battery. A 10-100% recharge will take less than 4 hours for the large battery at 22kW.

Has the Interstar got bigger?

The new model expands the range to include 3.3, 3.5 and 4-tonne variants. On the EV there’s also a 3.5, 3.8 and 4-tonne versions. There’s also body conversions including, crew van, dropside and tipper. Nissan has dropped the smallest L1 length van and will only offer L2 and L3 vans. There’s two heights with H2 and H3 models. In total, load volume will be from 10.8m3 to 22m3.

What about the Nissan Cabstar?

Nissan stopped making the Cabstar in 2019 due to emissions legislations and hasn’t have a replacement vehicle on sale in the UK since then. However, Nissan thinks that the availability of dropside and tipper options on the Interstar give them a similar option. “We thank that the open body versions can bring an offer that’s really appealing to NT400 and Cabstar customers who really appreciate the usability,” Andrew Limbert, Nissan LCV product and marketing.

Nissan Intersar interior

Are there more safety systems?

Cruise control, lane keeping assist, drowsiness warning, emergency stop and tyre pressure monitoring and rear parking sensors are all standard.

What about rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive?

Nissan says there won't be any other variants other than the front-wheel-drive vans for the right-hand-drive markets. That's because the majority of sales are for FWD 3.5-tonne vans.

When is it on sale?

Pre-sales for the Nissan Interstar will begin in Q3 and deliveries will start from Q1 2024. Nissan expects sales to be 90% for the diesel model and hope to double their sales.

Where can I buy one?

Nissan says you don't really sell the majority of their vans through their 37 dedicated LCV sites in the UK, rather than in the regular passenger car dealers.

Ford has unveiled its latest version of the Ford Transit Connect van which will go on sale in the spring.

The new Transit Connect will be available with a 2-litre EcoBlue engine and for the first time ever as a plug-in hybrid model.

The Ford Transit Connect PHEV will use a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine to that will charge a high-voltage battery connected to an electric motorwith a total power output of 150PS. Torque output will be 350Nm, and it will have a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as standard. The Connect PHEV will be able to carry a maximum payload of 770kg, as well as tow a trailer of up to 1,400kg.

The battery can be charge at up to 50kW using a DC fast charger or with a 11kW AC charger. It features three distinct driving modes to help maximise range - which Ford claims the Transit Connect PHEV will have a 68 mile range.

Drivers can choose from EV Now for electric only driving, EV Auto for a mix between battery and petrol power and EV Later which stores the battery energy for later use.

As well as the new PHEV powertrain there will also be the option of a 2-litre EcoBlue turbodiesel engine available in either 102PS or 122PS engine outputs. The entry-level model gets a six-speed manual gearbox but the higher powered van is also available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Ford claims fuel efficiency of up to 58.8mpg for the new Transit Connect diesel van.

Another first is the availability of an intelligent all-wheel drive system. The Transit Connect will now have an electronic four-wheel-drive system with enhanced traction control that will like prove popular in the Nordic countries.

The final new plot twist in the updated Transit Connect range is a brand new flexible seating concept. Available on the Kombi models, it allows the van to be both a passenger car with a second row of seats but also a proper panel van. The second row of seats folds forward to create a full bulkhead, expanding the usable space of the rear load compartment.

The latest Transit Connect is the third generation of the compact city van, and is based on the Volkswagen Caddy as part of their ongoing partnership that has seen the new Ford Ranger shared with the Volkswagen Amarok. Other collaboration projects will be between the Ford Transit and the Volkswagen Crafter as well as the Ford Transit Custom and the next generation of the Volkswagen Transporter. Ford has also recently upadted its Ford Transit Courier, which is not covered by the Volkswagen partnership.

The Transit Connect will go into production in spring 2024 with PHEV models arriving by the end of the year. The Kombi folding seat models will join the line-up in early 2025.

Ford's Transit Connect gets a load volume of 3.1m3 or 3.7m3 depending on wheelbase length. Payload for the Ford Transit Connect is 820kg.

The Transit Connect Kombi has a load volume to 2.5 m3 (L1) or 3.1 m3 (L2) when the seats are folded forward.

Read our Ford Transit Connect dimensions guide to see how it compares to the current model.

Interior of the new Transit Connect

On the inside, all vans will get a 10-inch digital instrument cluster as standard. There's also a 10-inch colour central touchscreen that supports wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto mirroring.

Standard safety systems include Pre-Collision Assist with Auto Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning, Evasive Steer Assist, and Intersection Assist . A rear-view camera and Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert are standard on higher trim models.

The trim line-up for the Transit Connect will consist of:

· Trend – available on van and kombi models, aimed at fleet and cost-conscious buyers

· Limited – upmarket van with 17-inch alloy wheels, work surface in passenger seat back

· Active – a desirable, rugged Kombi with SUV-inspired styling, LED lights and roof rails

Helion embarked on a monumental shift, revamping its commercial vehicle fleet to all-electric, culminating in the world's largest handover of Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo vans to the Swiss solar industry leader at the Attisholz site in Switzerland.

"We are delighted that Helion is committed to the ID. Buzz Cargo as a service vehicle and will also use self-generated solar power for carbon-neutral operation of its fleet," said Lars Krause, VWCV's Board of Management member, as he passed the keys to the Helionauts alongside representatives from the Swiss importer.

Noah Heynen, Helion's CEO, said: "With the conversion of our commercial vehicle fleet to electric power, we are also driving forward the energy transition within the company."

Heynen emphasized the importance of being ambassadors for their vision and the energy transition, stating, "As of today, around 100 of our technicians from all over Switzerland are on the road electrically."

He highlighted the benefits of electric vehicles, noting, "Electric vehicles are ideally suited for company fleets due to short distances between metropolitan areas and a dense fast charging network."

Heynen outlined the company's proactive approach, mentioning the establishment of an operational support group before the changeover to test the vehicles and address challenges.

"Helion plans to save around 300 tonnes of CO2 per year by switching to an electric fleet," Heynen said. "In addition, customers benefit from even more sustainable solar systems, as Helion technicians are now all on the road with electric commercial vehicles."

Helion invested in charging infrastructure, ensuring smooth day-to-day operations and financing home charging options for Helionauts.

"Together, we are making our contribution to achieving the climate goals and assuming responsibility as a company," Heynen concluded, stressing the long-term goal of halting climate change.

The future of electric vans has just got a whole lot more interesting as Hyundai and Iveco Group have announced a brand new partnership.

The collaboration will see Hyundai give Iveco access to its Global eLCV platform, enabling the Italian manufacturer to step away from producing variants based on the Iveco eDaily panel van.

This isn't your average badge-engineered job, though. This new van will be built on Hyundai's cutting-edge Global eLCV platform, specifically designed for commercial vehicles in the 2.5- to 3.5-tonne range. Think low-floor design for easy loading, next-gen battery tech for extended range, and all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern electric warrior.

If you take a look at Kia's annoucemnet of their new van range, you might get a little insight into the direction this product could be heading - but that's just a guess.

Hyundai will be taking care of manufacturing and supplying the base, while Iveco Group will adapt it and make it suitable for a European audience.

Luca Sra, President, Truck Business Unit, Iveco Group, said, “The unique partnership between Iveco Group and Hyundai Motor Company is making another significant step forward. The introduction of this new all-electric vehicle is particularly exciting for the European market, where urban and suburban distribution and delivery are crucial missions for logistics operators. We are confident that this agreement will not only strengthen our product offering but will also deepen our relationship with Hyundai, paving the way for continued collaborative projects that advance a more sustainable society.”

When will the Iveco branded vans from Hyundai launch?

Mark your calendars for the IAA Transportation 2024 happening in September this year. That's when Iveco will officially unveil its new electric van, based on Hyundai's platform in Hannover.

This partnership is a big deal, especially as rumours of Hyundai purchasing Iveco Group have been circulating for years. This marks the first joint venture together, but the Hyundai portfolio extends beyond LCVs with a wide range of trucks and other specialist equipment on offer. Could this be the beginning of more future projects?

Kia has revealed its ambitious plans to launch a range of electric vans in four sizes with multiple body types.

The new portfolio of Kia vans will start with the PV5, a medium-sized van that has a target launch price of €35,000.

A new production facility in Korea will be built to produce the vehicle with plans to make 150,000 units by 2026 when the PV5 will go on sale. The new manufacturing site has been designed solely to produce PBVs and will use a bespoke and more flexible manufacturing process that will eventually see production reach up to 300,000 units.

Kia new PVB line-up including the PV1, PV5, PV5 High roof and PV7

A larger model, called PV7 will follow with a smaller fully autonomous driverless model called PV1 planned for phase two.

Kia says its second phase products will be launched between 2027 and 2032 and will have level 4 autonomous capabilities with AI-based mobility functions. The range is planned to continue to evolve beyond 2032 with more conceptual ideas around big data and connected cities. A fourth city van model called PV3 is also planned with no specific timeline. Its arrival, it is said, will depend on how the other models in the range are received.

Measuring 4.7m long, the PV5 will come in both standard and high roof variant panel vans, a six-seat people mover and an autonomous taxi.

Its length makes it slightly smaller than a Ford Transit Custom, while its height appears to be very similar. That should give it a load volume of slightly under 6m3 for the standard van.

There’s no announcement yet on what motors or batteries the PV5 range will get but it will be built on an adapted version of the E-GMP platform which is currently used by the Kia EV6 and Kia EV9 electric passenger cars. However, the PV5 range will use a 400V electrical system, rather than 800V.

Kia also plans to introduce body swapping technology by 2027, an example of which was shown as a pick-up body based on a PV5 chassis cab.

Kia has named the entire new product line as PBVs, standing for Platform Beyond Vehicles.

“The KIA PBV s will open the door to new business and lifestyles by redefining the concept of space. The innovative use of space will enable a more efficient and reliable vehicle experiences. By showcasing Kia’s concept PBV we are prepared to be the first mover in the global PBV market,” said Kia President and CEO, Ho Sung Song.

A feature of each of the models is their universal load-height which will allow loads to be transferred seamlessly between the vehicles, regardless of their size.

Kia’s concept shows the larger PV7 – a 5m to 5.9m model – off-loading its contents to the autonomous PV1 using a rail system which transfers cargo modules between the vehicles. The Ford Transit dimensions start at 5.5m with long wheelbase vans measuring just over 5.9m.

Kia confirmed that the PV7, scheduled for release in 2027, will be available in front-wheel-drive and with an all-wheel-drive model. Further details of PV1 and PV3 are not yet available as neither has a planned on-sale date yet.

Built on an electric skateboard platform, all PBV models have what's called a "dynamic hybrid" modular body, that Kia says reduces the amount of parts needed by 55%. It combines tubular steel and engineered polymers with no loss of strength.

There will also be a high level of recycled content in the range, with materials like recycled sea plastics from the Kia-backed Ocean Cleanup project being re-used in the vans.

In a landmark moment at the Maubeuge plant, Renault celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Renault Kangoo and Renault Kangoo E-Tech, as the 4 millionth unit rolled off the assembly line.

Since its inception in 1997, the Kangoo has been a trailblazer in the leisure-activity vehicle segment, renowned for its unique design and innovative sliding side door.

Now available in 50 countries across the globe, the Renault Kangoo has achieved a staggering sales milestone, surpassing 4.4 million units, with an impressive 4 million units produced at the Maubeuge facility.

Additionally, the vehicle has left its mark on the South American market for 25 years, with production in Argentina. The Kangoo is a dominant force in the electric vehicle market with the Kangoo E-Tech and previously the Renault Kangoo ZE, having sold over 100,000 units in Europe since 2011.

Over the years, the Kangoo family has evolved, expanding its appeal to a diverse range of customers. From family use to passenger transport, the Kangoo offers a comfortable ride with its independent, modular seating and spacious interior. The Grand Kangoo version gets seven modular seats, providing an impressive 1,024 different configurations.

The Renault Kangoo is also made and sold as the Mercedes-Benz Citan and Mercedes-Benz eCitan as well as the Nissan Townstar and Nissan Townstar Electric.

The Maubeuge plant is responsible for producing all members of the Kangoo family, both internal combustion and 100% electric versions, with batteries assembled on-site.

La Poste: A Historic Partnership Reaches a Milestone

On Thursday, December 14, 2023, the keys of the 4 millionth Renault Kangoo E-Tech electric car were presented to long-time Kangoo customer, La Poste.

La Poste, a historic customer of Renault for over a century, has been using Renault vans for the delivery of postmail and parcels to the French people. A pioneer in electric mobility since 1904, La Poste stands as a world leader for its all-electric fleets, with an extensive history of partnership with Renault.

Having joined the Renault Express electric program in the 1980s, La Poste currently operates the largest fleet of electric vehicles, primarily with Kangoo Z.E.

The partnership has been crucial in establishing Renault as a pioneer and leader in the electric vehicle field. The iconic yellow color of Renault Kangoo, used by La Poste for delivering letters and parcels, has even become a symbol in Japan, where the vehicle is particularly popular. A limited edition "La Poste" was sold in Japan in 2015, further solidifying the global impact of this enduring partnership.

LEVC has revealed its new LECV L380 taxi sparking rumours that the new MPV could become a van.

Based on the new EV platform from parent company Geely, the Space Oriented Architecture (SOA) platform is a fully-electric platform that will be the basis for a new eight seater taxi cab. LEVC has previously made the LEVC VN5 panel van that was based on the TX5 taxi used in London, so a commercial vehicle variant of the L380 could be in the pipeline.

LEVC says that the new model is the first of a new range of innovative, spacious, fully electric models to come from the brand. It also says that the SOA platform will help accelerate its transition from a high-end taxi manufacturer to a leading provider of e-mobility solutions.

The L380 Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) is the first model in the revamped product line-up that LEVC says will be underpinned by revolutionary technology. They claim the new vehicle will have advances in range, efficiency, safety, charging time, durability, and connectivity. 

The LEVC L380 will initially be launched in China in 2024. Other markets will then follow for the L380 with LEVC promising more details, including technical specifications, as it gets closer to launch next year. For now the only details are that the vehicle will be available as a six- and eight-seat passenger vehicle putting it in the territory of the Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo.

Alex Nan, CEO of LEVC, said: “LEVC’s strategy is to become a leading zero-carbon mobility technology company and our new direction will see us grow beyond manufacturing the world’s most advanced taxi, the TX, and deliver smart, green, safe, and accessible mobility solutions to all.

“The L380 Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) ushers in not one but two firsts for LEVC. It is our first model to be based on advanced, flexible Space Oriented Architecture (SOA) technology – and it also launches LEVC into an entirely new sector.

“Setting new standards for occupant-focused interior space, L380 raises the bar for large luxury fully electric MPVs.”  

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