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Iveco Daily: The new kid in town

Iveco has launched its latest offering for the LCV market, the all-new Daily, in Oman

PHOTO: Currently in its third generation, the new Daily is available in both van and chassis cab versions. Credit: Iveco

After carving out a niche in the heavy-duty truck segment in the GCC, Iveco has now set its sights on increasing its share of the region’s LCV market, with the launch last month of the new Daily in Oman.

The Italian brand’s international and local partners, along with customers and media representatives, got their first glimpse of the re-engineered Daily at a launch event at the Muscat Holiday Hotel on October 7, organised in conjunction with International Equipment & Contracting Company (IECC), Iveco’s dealer in the sultanate.

Currently in its third generation, the new Daily has already managed to bag an accolade, International Van of the Year at the Hanover International Motor Show last year. Adapted to a wide variety of business needs, the new Daily is available in both van and chassis cab versions, and the range includes vans, semi-window vans, chassis cabs, chassis crew cabs, chassis cowls and minibus models.

The Omani market is significant for the manufacturer, and it has been finding success there with both its brands, Iveco and Astra, comments Pierre Lahute, brand president at Iveco. They occupy second and third positions in the market, historically dominated by German manufacturers. This was a factor behind the choice of Oman as the first market in the entire Africa & Middle East region that the new Daily is being launched in.

“Oman represents a key country for our development in the Gulf, a growing market with important construction and infrastructure projects moving forward as the country’s economy grows year over year,” Lahutte says.

“We chose Oman for the launch of the new Daily because it’s one of the most stable economies in the region, and it’s also a good example of a country which has managed to diversify its economy from oil. In the tourism sector it’s really growing, and there are a lot of opportunities here.”

In 2015, Iveco has more than doubled its performance in the heavy-duty truck market in Oman compared to last year. The brand’s popularity in the heavy segment is illustrated by a major order from Oman’s Galfar Engineering & Contracting for 207 Iveco Trakkers. Now, it is looking to replicate that success in the light commercial vehicle market with the rolling out of the new Daily range, Lahutte tells Truck & Fleet ME in an interview on the sidelines of the launch.

With a history going back over three decades, the Daily has sold over 2.6 million vehicles to date in over 110 countries worldwide. Each generation of the vehicle has been marked by a significant breakthrough in terms of features, Lahutte explains.

“The Daily was the first vehicle with independent front suspension at that time, it was the first with Common Rail engine technology. It has the strength of a truck, but it has the drive of a car, and all the safety features which come with that.”

Improvements

While 80% of the components on the new Daily have been redesigned, the vehicle has preserved its classic ladder frame chassis structure. The new architecture of the vehicle incorporates longer wheelbases and reduced rear overhang, assuring improved driveability without compromising agility in confined spaces.

Under the hood, the New Daily is equipped with three-litre engine capacity in two fuel types: 146hp diesel and 136hp CNG. The new front suspension QUAD-LEAF, standard on all models up to 3.5 tonnes, is a blend of the previous single- and twin-wheel versions, with the increased load-carrying capacity of the former and the ground clearance and maximum allowed payload on axles of the latter.

For the single-wheel models, the rear suspension has been redesigned, yielding two major improvements: a decrease in the height of the load platform by approximately 55mm to facilitate vehicle loading and unloading, and a reduction of oversteer in load transfers when cornering.

The third generation of the Daily also boasts a considerable reduction in fuel consumption. This is achieved by new technological features such as an EcoSwitch function, which allows engine mapping with the availability of reduced maximum torque (suitable for reduced load conditions). Another feature, the Smart Alternator, recovers kinetic energy from the vehicle during release and deactivates the absorption of power in battery-charging conditions. Along with improved aerodynamics, the new features allow total fuel savings of up to 5.5%, depending on vehicle version.

In addition, the manufacturer has worked on increasing comfort, with improvements to sound insulation and air conditioning. The dashboard has been completely redesigned to enhance vehicle ergonomics, seat and steering wheel, for the more car-like drive Iveco has been striving for.

On the new Daily van, available wheelbases have been revised and now include options of 3,520mm and 4,100mm. With the longer wheelbases, the van offers a wider range of load-carrying capacities, with 18m3 and 19.6m3 models now available. The GVW of the van models range from 3.5t to 7t, with vehicle load space volumes of 9-19.6m3 and load-carrying capacity of up to 4,000kg.

The new Daily chassis cab model has a load-carrying capacity of up to 4,700kg. The 146hp engine on twin-wheel versions is now also available with three-litre capacity and variable geometry turbocharger, improving payload capacity by more than 60kg while offering enhanced fuel consumption and lower emissions.

Safety standards have also been enhanced. Apart from the optional Electronic Stability Program (ESP), the new Daily also introduces safety features such as a Lane Departure Warning System.

Entering the GCC market

In Europe, the new Daily currently commands 11.5% of the light commercial vehicle market in the 3.5-6t category, Lahutte says. The market share increases in the 6-7.5t medium segment, with 33% market share.

“We launched the new Daily last year, and this year we’ve got two plants at full capacity, which is testament to the strong demand and the great success of the vehicle in Europe. This explains why we’re only launching it now in Oman and the wider GCC,” he notes. “We should have launched it earlier, but the demand in Europe was so successful that we had to cope with it first. We increased our production by 25% just over six months.”

While the Daily has been a strong performer in Europe thus far, it’s no secret that the LCV market in the GCC is dominated by Japanese players. How does Iveco plan to position its vehicle against the competition?

“The Daily has the strength and the capacity of an Asian truck because it’s a truck on the base,” Lahutte asserts. It’s also well poised to take on its rivals when it comes to car-like driveability and safety features, he notes. The Daily also finds applications in several different industries and is suited to a range of applications, including vehicle rescue, distribution, refrigerated transport, garbage collection and recycling.

To effectively penetrate the market in Oman and the wider GCC, Iveco will continue to rely strongly on local partners like IECC, Lahutte says, pointing out that stable local partners unaffected by economic uncertainty are all the more crucial in the current environment of low oil prices. Even as government spending on infrastructure projects is likely to decline, the manufacturer will still need to maintain its presence in the market, while ensuring it has an offering that meets different business needs, from heavy-duty trucks and off-road vehicles for industries like construction and mining, to light commercial vehicles for distribution and people transport.

“We had a very good performance in heavy trucks. And once you reach that, behind that, you need to start to develop an alternative business,” Lahutte says.

Going forward, in addition to working towards increasing sales, the brand will focus on continuing to provide quality after-market support for vehicles, in conjunction with local dealers

“We’ve got a parts depot in Dubai to serve the region, plus we encourage all local dealers to have their own depot and training,” Lahutte concludes. “The philosophy is definitely that selling a vehicle is easy. Maintaining it is what makes really the difference. And that’s what we put all our efforts on.”

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