Sevel mid-range scoops Van of the Year

The jury for the International Van of the Year (IVoY) competition, as with its truck equivalent, is made up of leading commercial vehicle journalists representing 20 European countries. This year's election has seen the new Sevel mid-range scoop gold by a massive margin of 50 points. Marketed as the Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Fiat Scudo, the stylish new van won the award with 108 points out of 140. Renault's new Kangoo was second with 58 points and the Nissan Cabstar/Renault Maxity took bronze with 29.

The IVoY jury particularly praised the on-road comfort of the Sevel range when both empty and laden. The fact it has been designed for passenger purposes offers an obvious benefit for the driver, with driveability and manoeuvrability greatly improved over the outgoing model. In addition to developing a commercial vehicle with the comfort, handling, chassis stiffness and safety standards of a passenger car, the engineers have also ensured the braking system is superb and the availability of ESP and several air bags is much appreciated. The Sevel van also meets the European ECE 12-03 safety standard for cars.

One of the key innovations for this class of commercial vehicle is the air suspension on the rear axle which can be ordered as a competitively priced option. The jury commended the extra comfort of the air suspension, and also the fact that the overall height can be lowered to less than 1.9m. This makes it possible to enter many multi-storey car parks that are normally off-limits for vans. Furthermore, the fuel consumption of the vehicles as tested by several of the jury members has been very convincing.

With an increase in the wheelbase length and the ability to specify chassis-cab versions, the new Sevel appeals to a wide range of customers. In combination with the high roof and higher payloads, this pushes the light Sevel range into a larger category of light CVs. The light Sevel is now available in loading capacities from 5-7m3 and payloads up to 1,200kg. A variety of passenger transport versions are also available.

Much attention has been paid to the loading space. The width between the wheelcases is now wide enough to load a euro-pallet, while the design of the cab makes room for extra long loads. When air suspension is fitted, the loading floor can be lowered to 490mm.

In summary the Scudo-Dispatch-Expert is a well designed, competitively priced, economical vehicle which fulfils the most important criterion of the IVoY jury - a contribution to the efficiency of the transport of goods by road.


What is Sevel?

Sevel (Societe Europeen Vehicule e Legiers) is a joint-venture company between Fiat and PSA Peugeot-Citroen which was formed in 1978 for the development and production of light CVs. The company has two factories: one in Italy, producing the Ducato/Relay/Boxer, and one in France, producing the Scudo/Dispatch/Expert. The new Sevel light compact van - launched at Amsterdam - is the fruit of a 2005 three-way joint-venture between Fiat, PSA and Tofas in Turkey.


The also-rans

While the Sevel product emerged victorious by a decent margin there were some strong candidates this year. Taking the silver medal was the Renault Kangoo, a late entry onto the shortlist by virtue of it going into series production ahead of the public debut. The Kangoo is a stunning new product offered in van and MPV format, with everything changed apart from the driveline. Now based on the Scenic platform rather than the Clio as with the outgoing model, the Kangoo benefits from much-improved handling and a wider body space.

The new Nissan Cabstar/Renault Maxity filled the third spot. The forward-control vehicle looks on paper to be one of the leaders in the sector, with the best turning circle and one of the lightest chassis.

The remaining places in the shortlist were filled by the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi and the LDV Maxus.

MAN TG wins International Truck of the Year 2008

The International Truck of the Year 2008 was unveiled at last week's Amsterdam truck show - Jury chairman Andy Salter explains the decision. The MAN TG Series has been voted International Truck of the Year 2008 (IToY) at The European Road Transport Show in Amsterdam. The international jury, made up of CV journalists from 20 European countries, awarded the new TG Series a total of 111 votes to giving MAN's new heavy duty truck range a clear lead.

There were a number of strong challengers this year - the MAN beat off the Iveco Stralis and Renault Premium Lander to scoop top honours. This is MAN's seventh ITOY award, which is an unprecedented achievement Mercedes and Volvo each have five victories under their belts. The TG Series replaces the TGA in the MAN line-up. The TGX, with its full-width cab, is designed for long-haul work the narrower TGS will appeal to the short-haul and construction sectors. The flagship 680hp V8 version of the TGX is currently the most powerful road-going truck in the world - the rest of the range relies on the well-regarded D26 and D20 motors rated at 320-540hp.

Although the driveline and electrical system are a straight carry over from the old TGA range this is much more than a facelift new 35% of the parts on the new line-up are new. The exterior changes to the TGX/TGS are largely cosmetic but there have been some functional improvements. For example, improved aerodynamics are said to cut fuel consumption by 2% and wind noise by 30%. A new roof spoiler for the XLX cab is also claimed to improve fuel efficiency.

New mirrors are claimed to stay cleaner for longer the stylish new headlight cluster features long-life bulbs and LEDs are now used for the parking and marker lights. Down below a lighter and more durable rear axle connection with the springs cuts the weight by 20kg. TGX tractors are offered with single-leaf parabolic springs on the front axle - a saving of 46kg - while the rear axles are now equipped with a cast X-section control arm instead of forged, shaving a further 23kg. All of which, along with a wholesale review of the cab interior, combine to make the new TG Series a significant new model entry.

It went into production in September, so it just scraped under the wire as a contender for ItoY 2008. The jury was particularly impressed with the cab enhancements, which address many of the complaints directed at the previous range. Special mention was also made of the improvements to the chassis - the new front axle on the TGX significantly enhances its steering set-up.

The contenders

One of the favourites for the International Truck of the Year 2008 was the Iveco Stralis - in fact the MAN victory came as a surprise to many industry observers. The Stralis benefits from a stylish cab makeover while power comes from a Euro-5 version of the well-regarded Cursor engine - but Iveco had to be content with the runner-up spot on the podium.

Third place went to Renault's Premium Lander light construction range. This is an extremely impressive addition to the Renault line-up, but only one tipper has been victorious in the past so the Lander was always a long shot. Remaining places on the shortlist went to the Sisu C600 and the Iveco Trakker.

The judging

Each of the 20 International Truck of the Year jury members has 12 votes to cast and no more than seven votes may be case for any one candidate. Voting takes place as a secret ballot by fax, with no conferring between the judges. The votes are collected by the IToY independent adjudicator Umberto de Pretto at the IRU in Geneva before the chairman is then notified of the jury's decision.

This year's votes were:

  • MAN TG Series: 111
  • Iveco Stralis: 77
  • Renault Premium Lander: 55
  • Sisu C600: 6
  • Iveco Trakker: 1

The roll of honour

  • 1977 Seddon Atkinson 200
  • 1978 MAN 280
  • 1979 Volvo F7
  • 1980 MAN 321
  • 1981 Leyland T45
  • 1982 Ford Cargo
  • 1983 Renault G260/290
  • 1984 Volvo F10
  • 1985 Mercedes-Benz LN2
  • 1986 Volvo FL
  • 1987 MAN F90
  • 1988 DAF 95
  • 1989 Scania 3 Series
  • 1990 Mercedes Benz SK
  • 1991 Renault Magnum
  • 1992 Iveco EuroCargo
  • 1993 Iveco EuroTech
  • 1994 Volvo FH
  • 1995 MAN F2000
  • 1996 Scania 4 Series
  • 1997 Mercedes-Benz Actros
  • 1998 DAF 95XF
  • 1999 Mercedes-Benz Atego
  • 2000 Volvo FH Series
  • 2001 MAN TG-A
  • 2002 DAF LF
  • 2003 Iveco Stralis
  • 2004 Mercedes-Benz Actros
  • 2005 Scania R Series
  • 2006 MAN TGL
  • 2007 DAF XF 105
  • 2008 MAN TG Series