The future of vehicles will be electrified, autonomous and connected -- but trucks and vans might get there before passenger cars.
Commercial vehicle executives say that the relentless focus on cost from independent tradespeople and operators of big fleets means that they are more receptive to new technologies that can save money and increase efficiencies. Those could include electric or hybrid powertrains, software to manage drivers or vehicle usage, and automated tasks such as freight yard maneuvering and package deliveries.
Many of these new technologies will be on display at the IAA commercial vehicle show in Hanover, Germany. About 2,000 exhibitors are expected for the event, which runs until Sept. 27.
"For many of these functions, we will see wide use in commercial vehicles much earlier than in passenger cars," ZF Friedrichshafen CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider said in June at the supplier's commercial vehicle technology event. "Here, the fruit is hanging much lower because of immediate total cost of ownership benefits and reduced complexity. In clearly defined fields of application such as mining, farming and freight yards, the advantages of automation will show their strengths very soon."
Below is a look at the new light-commercial vehicles, concepts and news that will generating buzz in Hanover:
Ford is Europe's biggest seller of light commercial vehicles. It will a debut the Transit Custom PHEV that has a hybrid powertrain system that targets a zero-emission driving range of 50 km (31 miles) in electric mode. It also uses Ford's 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine for total range of more than 500 km (310 miles). The plug-in hybrid van will enter volume production in the second half of 2019, Ford said.
Ford is also showing a web-based connectivity application that will help fleet operators reduce vehicle downtime and optimize running costs.