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Volkswagen T5 to jive with buyers

Mr T: VW's T5 Transporter is going hunting in Hiace and iLoad territory.

VW says T5’s affordable DSG, TDI efficiency and sexy tech will hit Asian van sales

23 Mar 2010

VOLKSWAGEN is counting on the re-engineered T5 commercial vehicle range to make sales inroads against the market leaders.

This includes the cheapest van variants – the $36,490 75kW TDI and $37,990 103kW TDI – which are charged with tackling the Toyota HiAce/Hyundai iLoad stronghold in the crucial $35,000 to $45,000 price bracket.

That’s why Volkswagen is confident that T5 sales will blossom rather than suffer, even though the least expensive Transporter van is some $6000 dearer than the now-discontinued petrol model.

In contrast, the cheapest iLoad diesel costs $34,490 ($4500 more than the base petrol version) while the $37,340 HiAce diesel is $2800 ahead of the unleaded van.

VFACTS figures show that, to the end of February, the iLoad and the HiAce were neck and neck at 1249 sales apiece, well ahead of the previous Transporter’s 230 units. Even the ancient Mitsubishi Express managed to lure almost as many buyers (221), although the old T5 outsold its Mercedes-Benz Vito compatriot (159) and the ageing Ford Transit (154).

Volkswagen believes the previous T5 faltered against the big-selling Asian vans on account of it not offering an affordable automatic gearbox option.

The facelifted 2010 T5 GP Transporter version in $40,990 103kW TDI SWB guise falls in no such hole – and goes one better in being a highly efficient (and consumer aspirational) DSG dual-clutch transmission that is less heavy on fuel and lower on carbon dioxide emissions than a regular torque converter auto.

3 center image Left: Toyota Hiace. Below: Hyundai iLoad.

According to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles director Philip Clark, the power, economy and driveability attractions of a work van boasting the combination of the latest-generation common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel and DSG gearbox should ensure that the 103 TDI DSG van becomes the T5 bestseller.

Previously, Volkswagen Transporter buyers wanting comparable performance in the old-model T5 had to spend well over $40,000 for the ageing 128kW five-cylinder PDI Pumpe Duse TDI, and at least $42,990 if the automatic gearbox version was a requirement.

Furthermore, as part of improved workplace conditions, many fleet and private buyers now insist on automatic transmissions, high crash-test safety ratings and electronic stability control, as well as lowest possible emissions and fuel consumption figures. The latest T5 has made significant strides in these areas.

New-generation driver and/or safety aids such as blind-spot warning systems, reverse cameras, parking radar, satellite navigation, cruise control and cornering lights are T5 options that are also likely to hit a home run with business and private van buyers seeking to further personalise their mobile workplaces.

“The new model gives us an opportunity to go into the market we’ve never seriously been considered before,” he told GoAuto at this month’s T5 GP launch in Newcastle.

“We own the van market above $45,000. But the biggest segment is the mid-to-high 30s/low 40s range (offering) between 80kW and 120kW of power.

“That’s where Toyota and Hyundai operate in. We haven’t had an engine with an automatic to compete in that segment until now, and we want a share of that. We have 40 per cent of that business with Caddy, but HiAce and iLoad are doing significant volumes in their class (and we’re not).” Mr Clark said keener prices for the facelifted T5 range were testimony to Volkswagen AG’s recognition of the potential for much greater Transporter sales growth in Australia over the next few years.

He added that the same was true for the latest people-mover versions of the T5 range, citing the sub-$50,000 entry-level price for the long-wheelbase Caravelle nine-seater featuring the 103kW TDI engine and DSG transmission as standard equipment. Its predecessor equivalent cost $5000 more.

Volkswagen is hoping this single-pronged Caravelle attack will tempt buyers who are in the people transfer business – such as hotels and organisations with patient transport needs such as hospitals.

The similarly priced Multivan (with seven seats but more luxury and a greater model range) is also poised to give Volkswagen a chance against the Toyota Tarago and Chrysler Grand Voyager in the up-spec people mover class, as well as operators of hire cars/limousines.

“Vans are still (Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’) core businesses,” Mr Clark said.

“The factory has got the confidence in us – after nine years (operating as a Volkswagen AG subsidiary) – and so they are supporting us in every way.”

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