VW takes aim at ready-built commercial market

By: Cobey Bartels

Presented by

Volkswagen launches its Australian Body Builder Program, showing off a ready-built range of commercial vehicle options for the Australian market

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The manufacturer unveiled four new model variants at its headquarter in Chullora yesterday, a taste test of a range set to expand.

Volkswagen says it will source its conversions from Australian suppliers, and service and repair will be available at its network of more than 100 dealers nationwide.

Volkswagen Group Australia’s (VGA) National Conversion Manager Andrew Hester says approved converters meet rigid factory criteria and back the standard five-year warranty.

"VGA has a breadth of capability it has never possessed and a range unrivalled elsewhere," Hester says.

"The four top-to-tail solutions that you see here are very much the tip of the iceberg. Volkswagen and its partners can engineer literally dozens of bespoke variants."

The two standouts for us on the day were the Crafter Box Body and extended-cab Amarok XL, both aimed at the competitive commercial market.

First spot upon scanning the showroom was the Amarok XL, offering single-cab tray length on a full-size dual-cab ute, a model with implications within the red hot adventure market as well as offering tradies a do-it-all five-seater option.

The extended ute was born out of the Netherlands where Veth Automotive designed the conversion, but they’ve now partnered with Adelaide-based Adaptive Manufacturing who undertakes the conversion locally.

Essentially the chassis has been lengthened by 310mm and from there a style cab extension can be completed, or steel tray option fitted. Beyond that, the model offers an enticing base for slide on campers and other adventure conversions.

The XL is offered in both V6 and four-cylinder variants, but at this stage all receive the tried and tested eight-speed auto.

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In addition to the 310mm XL extension, Volkswagen is also offering an XLL model with a 650mm chassis extension, both of which receive the same warranty as the base vehicle.

Volkswagen left no stone unturned on this Amarok conversion, going as far as to test and reprogram the electronic stability control (ESC) for the longer wheelbase.

At the larger end of the models shown, the Crafter Box Body is a lightweight pantech option that Volkswagen claims is almost half-a-tonne lighter than any comparable body and boasts the highest cargo payload in its class.

The 3550 model we were shown features a payload just under one tonne, whereas heavier specced models offer up near the two tonne mark.

Ingimex UK completes the conversion and as is the case with the entire range within the body builder program, the factory warranty remains.

A security-focused interlocking shutter system is integrated into the roof, ensuring the rear door can’t be pried open.

In terms of engine and gearbox options, all Crafters run the eight-speed auto but customers get a choice of the TDI340 and TDI410 engines within this range depending on the model.

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The model at the launch event featured the optional 500kg column mounted tail lift, with a chassis-mounted 100kg lift for Crafter 50 currently being tested.

Other models on show were a Tiguan Proline aimed at Highway Patrol and special duties, as well as a Crafter LWB minibus built by Amtek in NSW.

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