New Volkswagen Crafter arrives

Volkswagen has launched the new Crafter large van in Ireland at a starting price of €23,157 plus VAT, writes Brian Byrne.

With four base models, three lengths and three height options, the new Crafter also offers FWD and 4WD versions for the first time.

It is a 100pc Volkswagen van and design, and the company has built a dedicated factory for its production at a green field site in Poland. The previous Crafter was a joint version with Mercedes-Benz and was based on that brand’s Sprinter.

The new van has already won International Van of the Year 2017, and dealers in Ireland will hold a special Open Week for customers from 24-29 April.

The Crafter has newly developed 2.0 engines, all Euro 6 compliant, and offers an 8-speed automatic in all versions. Power options range from 102hp-177hp, and the van is pre-designed to accommodate a second alternator for variants which need extra electrical power, or a compressor for refrigeration. The vehicle has a full range of driver assistance systems, including ESP with trailer stabilisation, ACC Adaptive Cruise Control, a post-collision braking system, a sidewind compensation system, and a trailer manoeuvring assistant.

Financing for the Crafter will be available from Volkswagen Bank Ireland, and options include the only Commercial Vehicle PCP arrangement in Ireland.

The MD of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Ireland, Alan Bateson, says the arrival of the new Crafter will enable the company to more than double its market share in the large van sector, and bring the Volkswagen CV market share in Ireland to 25pc.

At a presentation yesterday to key fleet leasing companies, he said that in what are ‘uncertain times’ because of Brexit and other influences, he believes the pure vans sector of the LCV business will remain ‘steady’ during 2017, with any downturn being mainly related to car-derived vans.

“There’s nervousness in Irish and other markets,” he noted. “We see confidence going up and down on a monthly basis. But one promising thing is that people are busy again, especially plumbers, plasterers, people who have had a rough time over the last number of years, are all busy again. In fact, we’re hearing from them in many cases that they are too busy to come and look at vans.”

The head of product and planning in VCVI, Aidan Smith, outlined how Volkswagen engineers accompanied van users in their daily work during the development phase of the new Crafter, to find out exactly what the operators required. The result is that the company was able to design a van that in very many respects is claimed to be the top of the class.

“There are many different customer groups who buy a van like this,” he added, “so with the new Crafter we now have a huge range of variant options.”

Having a FWD large van for the first time also allows the brand to compete in a sector which is 58pc of the complete large van segment. “It also allows a lower loading sill, more efficiency in emissions, and gives us a van in the 3t-4t range.”

A Conversion Centre in the factory will provide support and advice to specialist body builders.

The new Crafter has a 3-year warranty with unlimited mileage.

Pictured below at the fleet leasors launch were Aadil Tandon of Johnson & Perrot; Aidan Quigley, Merrion Fleet; Michael Walsh, Merrion Fleet; and Mirian Gardner, Merrion Fleet.

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