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VW targets top-five rank in commercial sales

Newcomer: The VW Amarok will help to propel Volkswagen up the commercial vehicle sales rankings when it arrives in October.

Facelifted T5, new Amarok and 2011 Caddy to ramp up VW’s commercials to new level

23 Mar 2010

A TRIO of commercial-vehicle newcomers could elevate Australia to top-five status in Volkswagen global commercial vehicle sales within a few years, according to VW Commercial Vehicles director Philip Clark.

The newly re-engineered Transporter van and Dual Cab Chassis models, now on sale along with their closely related people-mover sister models the Caravelle and Multivan, will be joined by the much-anticipated Amarok one-tonne pick-up and redesigned Caddy compact van in VW’s commercial vehicle sales ascension.

Volkswagen says the T5’s significantly improved performance, economy, emissions, safety, and equipment levels to go with the sharper pricing against rivals from Toyota (HiAce), Hyundai (iLoad), Mercedes-Benz (Vito) and Chrysler (Grand Voyager) should boost the range’s popularity, but ultimately it will only mean incremental increases at best for the series.

Sales are expected to top about 2500 in a full year of the T5 update, up from last year’s 1860-odd units.

The real sales driver for Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle division in Australia will be the Amarok light truck range, since it will thrust the German company into a hotly contested segment that accounts for about 150,000 units each year.

Its most popular combatants – the Toyota HiLux and Nissan Navara – regularly gatecrash the overall new-vehicle bestsellers listings. In fact, the latter is its maker’s number-one volume model in Australia by a factor of about two-to-one.

 center image Left: Volkswagen Transporter. Below: Volkswagen Caddy.

Volkswagen refuses to talk about its aspirations for the Amarok, which is due in October, but its importance to the marque means that – after South American countries such Argentina, where it is built – Australia will probably be one of the pick-up truck’s biggest customers.

As we reported after our first drive report late last year, the Amarok shares many drivetrain components with the T5 Transporter, and will initially arrive as a dual-cab utility offering diesel power, a manual gearbox and a choice of rear or all-wheel drive configurations. Single-cab, petrol and DSG/automatic models are earmarked to arrive in or after 2011.

Also expected next year is the release of the comprehensively redesigned Volkswagen Caddy.

About 2100 Caddys were sold in Australia last year, putting it ahead of the T5 and third overall van sales behind the HiAce and iLoad – has remained unchanged since its arrival in Australia in early 2006.

As a result, Mr Clark said, the Polish-built Golf-V-derived series will undergo a similar transition to its big brother towards the end of 2010 in Europe to bring it up to date with a wave of similarly sized newcomers such as the second-generation Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo, as well as the Peugeot Partner.

This means a switch from the old 1.9-litre PD Pumpe Duse TDI four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine to the latest common-rail direct-injection units of either 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre capacities (they are both closely related powerplants). Petrol units of about 1.4-litres are also thought to be in the pipeline, along with the long-awaited incorporation of the DSG on both varieties of engines.

The Caddy is also expected to gain a slick cabin makeover, improved safety, more up-spec luxury options such as parking radar and satellite navigation and a more contemporary nose treatment, a la the latest Golf.

Expect to see the MY2011 Caddy in Australia sometime in the first quarter of next year, completing the triumvirate of hot new commercial vehicles for Volkswagen.

“The Amarok will be a big player in Australia,” Mr Clark said.

“We might be about 20th or 30th overall (in Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles sales around the world) … but once we get the Amarok business in, we might be in the top half-dozen (markets, eventually).

“But our brand is Transporter … if we don’t have that, we won’t succeed with Crafter or Caddy and we wouldn’t have Amarok.”

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