GST on the highway to growth

Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

By the time of going to press the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill had yet to find favour with a majority of lawmakers in the country. After being discussed for almost a decade, the bill continues to be in front of a parliamentary committee. Claimed to have far-reaching economic consequences, and pan-India, the bill has attracted an eight-point dissent note from the Congress faction of the opposition. Those who are aware of this development mentioned that the note calls for a simple and comprehensive GST. Claiming that the Constitution (122nd) Amendments Bill 2015 is neither, the note mentions that the bill is pitted with compromises, exclusions and exceptions. Through the note, claim sources, the Congress has demanded an 18 per cent ceiling so that in pursuit of higher revenues the GST council would desist from crossing the ceiling. The dissent note also stresses upon scrapping the proposal to levy an additional one per cent tax. Mentioning it as market distorting, and especially in view of the fact that it had proposed 100 per cent compensation to be deposited in a fund under the administrative control of the GST council, the Congress, in its dissent note, has also claimed that tobacco and tobacco products, alcohol for human consumption and electricity supply and consumption should be included. Emphasising that the GST council is unduly weighted in favour of the Centre, the dissent note, in the interest of true cooperative federalism, has called for 75 per cent share of votes in the GST council by states, and 25 per cent by the Centre. Stating that the absence of GST disputes settlement authority was a lacuna, the dissent note called for safeguarding of revenue sources of the panchayats and municipalities.

GST and the states

If the Congress’s dissent note was to be delved upon, there’s a possibility to reach an opinion that it is the centre, which is pushing the bill rather than the states being equally keen. The same may not be true. The fact however is that the bill is yet to find favour with majority of the lawmakers in the country. The Congress’ dissent note apart, a debate is already on about the effect of GST on ‘consuming’ states and ‘producing’ states. Some experts are of the opinion that GST implementation would see the revenues of ‘producing’ states fall. A fundamental flaw in the bill, they point out, is the one per cent additional tax that has been granted for a period of two years to placate with the ‘producing’ states. While some go to the extent of terming the current nature of the bill as the one that will only cause pain for the next two years at least, there are those who feel that the proposal to levy one per cent additional tax fails in logic. Since states are to be compensated, what is the need for one per cent additional tax, they question. The possibility of one per cent additional tax extending beyond two years is also there. Experts mention that the GST council can extend this period with the finance minister having no veto power.

With the central government seeming to be more assertive about GST’s implementation, it has to be taken into account that it is a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services that will touch every state, every district, every tehsil and every individual. GST will not just replace all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian central and state governments, it will also be a comprehensive Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services, levied and collected on value addition at each stage of sale or purchase of goods or supply of services based on input tax credit method without state boundaries. Experts emphasise that no distinction will be made between taxable goods and taxable services. They will be taxed at a single rate in a supply chain of goods and services until the goods or services reach the consumer.

GST will unleash biggest tax reform

Claiming that GST will lead to one of the biggest taxation reforms in the country, experts state that the likely result would be the reduction of cost of doing business. Cascading effects of taxes will be eliminated. This will especially benefit automotive distributors, which attract high rates of CENVAT duties as well as VAT at the state level, in addition to other levies such as NCCD, Auto cess, entry taxes, octroi, registration charges and road taxes. Commenting on GST, Erich Nesselhauf, CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV), said that its implementation will be interesting. According to Sarika Goel, Associate Director – Tax & Regulatory Services, Ernst & Young, automotive exports are also likely to benefit from the implementation of GST as embedded taxes in India’s export prices will be eliminated.

Ease of inter-state movement, other benefits

Likely to mark the elimination of embedded tax costs on inter-state movement of goods (CST or entry taxes), and a shift in the point of taxation to the consumer ultimately, industry sources claim that businesses would have greater flexibility to re-design their supply chains and optimise logistics costs. They add that vendors are also likely to benefit from the transition, and OEMs could negotiate with their vendors to pass on those benefits in terms of input prices. Eliminating multiple tax structure at central and state levels would make the sector viable and globally competitive.

Helping auto suppliers to consolidate

Currently, auto component manufacturers set up units close to OEM plants to avoid breaking the VAT credit chain. Experts explain that the removal of Central Sales Tax (CST) in the regime would provide a new opportunity for consolidation of these units into larger units, which would elevate the economic efficiency of the sector as a whole. Importers, distributors and domestic resellers should be able to claim credit of GST paid on all business procurements of goods and services, as opposed to the current scenario, where they cannot claim a credit for the duties or taxes paid on capital assets and input services availed. This free flow of credits across the supply chain should work well for all business-to-business (B2B) players, and result in increased profitability, claim experts. Defining the effect of GST, Dr Surinder Kapur, Chairman, Sona Group, is known to have said that the implementation of GST will add 1.5 to 2 per cent to the GDP growth rate. Helping to broaden the tax base, and ensure a more stable flow of revenues, GST, experts claim, could assist the country in achieving the gross domestic product (GDP) growth target.

Need for special transition provisions

A common practice in the auto industry is to sell vehicles through a dealer network. More than 80 per cent of the sales is often outside the state of manufacture. The distribution of the vehicles could be by way of direct sales to dealers. This is subject to CST, or by stock transfers to depots and stockyards across the country. Both these models entail a tax cost. The tax cost gets embedded in the final price of the automobile. Though the rate of CST cannot be set off by the dealer against his VAT liability, state VAT laws provide for retention or reduction of input tax credits even though stock transfers are not eligible to tax. Stock transfers as of current do not attract any tax (other than the loss of input tax credit in the exporting state). It is possible that GST would be applicable on all ‘supplies’ including stock transfers. This would have its own challenges. The valuation of such stock transfers will need to be tackled as there would be no sale value available to calculate tax. There could be significant cash flow issues as well. Special transition provisions will be required for the movement of stock from the factory to a depot (or dealer warehouse) on the date of introduction of GST.

In an interview to a business newspaper in 2014, Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director—Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, is known to have said that in the absence of GST they end up having 25 to 28 stock points in different states. Since the ticket size of Ace is low, the company is doing direct billing all over the country from the Pantnagar plant. Pisharody is also known to have mentioned that they are absorbing two per cent CST, and this amounts to Rs 40,000 in case of a heavy commercial vehicle that costs in excess of Rs. 20 lakh. The implementation of GST would help with direct billing to all the customers from the plant. Thus, the need for many warehouses would be gone, reducing the logistics cost as well. For buyers, the amount of documentation to prove that they pay the relevant taxes will be simpler.

SIAM view

In its list of suggestions, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) has called for the inclusion of road tax (motor vehicle tax) in GST. It has also demanded that no additional tax should be introduced or levied after introducing GST. Any change, if required, should be done by modifying the rate of taxation under the GST regime, and not through additional levies or taxes. SIAM has also mentioned that used vehicle trade should be brought under the gamut of GST too. Some of the other suggestions include uniform rate of tax on complete vehicles and inputs, against which input credit should be allowed. Tax paid on complete vehicles on movement from factory should be made available as input credits to the vehicle dealers. Tax rates should be uniform across states, and there should be one authority to which payment would be made of one challan. A common base should be adopted for taxation of both, central and state GST. The document based credit should be dispensed with. Fuel should be brought under GST with input tax credit and a mechanism to avail the same. There should be no distinction between input and capital goods. Appropriate provisions should be introduced to ensure continuity of existing benefits. GST Act should be common to all the states. State specific incentives should be protected under GST.

Summing Up

It will be interesting to see when and how GST is implemented. As of current, the implementation of GST in the next financial year (as announced by the finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech) looks difficult. Impossible almost. The eight-point dissent note of Congress assumes importance at this juncture. The issues highlighted by the dissent note will need to be looked into. There is no doubt that the need is for a simple and comprehensive GST. However, for the same, the need is for the centre and states to actively collaborate; take hard decisions if the need be. Capable of inducing far reaching economic reforms, GST has got everyone in the country looking up to it with trepidation as well as with interest. The need for GST is to pave the way for transparency and a fair taxation policy, which would lead to a robust growth. In the CV industry, Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicles (M&HCVs) continue to grow on a small base, with replacement induced demand mainly from cargo. Some bus segments have shown fair growth lately. In such a scenario, the need is for a GST that is not just simple and comprehensive but also a tax regime that will set the tone for the industry’s brighter future.

Marquardt banks on CV solutions

Article by: Rajesh Rajgor

With its CAN-based multiplexing units, Marquardt is keen to do business with commercial vehicle manufacturers to create smart Man Machine Interface (MMI).

Germany-based Marquardt Group has invested in an R&D centre at Pune as a part of its wholly owned subsidiary in India, Marquardt India Pvt. Ltd. Keen to conduct business with commercial vehicle manufacturers, Marquardt India has the ability to develop smart MMI switches. These will find use in CV multiplexing units. Multiplexing units are a part of the multiplexing architecture, which offers significant design flexibility in order to realise truck and bus specific requirements starting with Central Body Control Unit (CBCU) and Customised Modular Instrument Cluster (CMIC), as basic vehicle components. Additional multiplex nodes or powertrain components can be easily added to achieve a scalable and future-proof network system.

Marquardt, which bagged its biggest order from Tata Motors to supply keyless entry and (remote) start system, plans to utilise the R&D centre at Pune to offer customised switching solutions for various electrical appliances (non-auto), man machine interfaces, electronically controlled damping system and drive assist system. With stress on ingenious engineering, company sources drew attention to the fact that such solutions help to reduce point-to-point wiring harness by modernising the complete system to the CAN-bus level. Announcing that the largest contract to deliver passive entry and start system for various passenger vehicle models will be addressed by the third quarter of 2016, Dr. Harald Marquardt, CEO of Marquardt Group, explained that it is this order that propelled the group to invest in an R&D centre in India. Explaining that the passive entry and start system involves a key-like device that can be held anywhere near the car – in the pocket, wallet or just held in hand, Dr. Marquardt averred, “It will take us at least three years to set-up a complete manufacturing facility here in India. The first batch will consist of 10,000 units of such systems, and will be sourced from our Chinese plant.” He added, “The total contract is in double-digit million euros, and that has motivated us to invest in India over the next two-to-three years.”

The keyless entry and (remote) start system, referred to as ‘Passive Entry Passive Start System’, is made up of a group of products including the key-less unit, the control unit, antenna, door sensor, electronic steering lock and the start-stop button. The system offers the driver the advantage of opening and closing the door, or of starting-stopping the engine by simply pressing a button. Set to play an important role in addressing the order placed by Tata Motors, apart from driving other business interests of the company, the R&D centre in Pune’s Embassy Tech Zone, is spread over 25,000 sq. ft., and was built with an investment of rupees nine crore according to Ran Bahadur Singh, CEO, Marquardt India. Employing 80 engineers and expected to employ up to 200 engineers in the next two-to-three years, the R&D centre is set to play a definitive role in the area of ingenious engineering.

Ingenious engineering

Growing demand for modern vehicles that are fuel efficient, cleaner, comfortable and safer, calls for the employment of modern systems like CAN-bus, which facilitates easier communication with different sub-systems like air-bags, anti-lock braking systems, audio-video systems, doors, windows, mirror adjustments, etc. Said Debashish Tripathy, Head – Development, Marquardt India, “One of the features of this system through intelligent harnessing (keeping in mind the space constraints) is to enhance the fuel efficiency of the vehicle by minimising the power (current) consumption from the battery, putting the vehicle in the sleep mode, until the driver wakes it up through a command.” Achieving sales of EUR 838 million in 2014, Marquardt, specialising in mechatronic systems and components, achieves 84 per cent of its business from the automotive industry. The Indian subsidiary was set up in 1965, and has been offering since smart switches for home appliances like washing machines, dryers and mixers. The company shifted focus to the automotive industry in 2008. Going forward, the R&D centre at Pune will play a vital role in promoting abilities acquired by the group the world over. The centre will collaborate closely with similar such centres at Romania, Mexico, China and Germany.


VE Commercial Vehicles sells 3930 units in April 2015

VE Commercial vehicles Ltd. (A Volvo Group and Eicher Motors joint venture) has sold 3930 units in April 2015 (YTD 14950) as compared to 3503 units in April 2014(LYTD 13484) recording a growth of 12.2%.(YTD Growth of 10.9%) This includes 3838 units of Eicher Brand and 92 units of Volvo Brand.
The following are the key highlights for Apr 2015:
·  Eicher branded trucks and buses have recorded total sales of 3838 units in Apr 2015(YTD 14601) as compared to 3434 units in Apr 2014(LYTD 13248), representing a growth of 11.8%.(YTD Growth if 10.2%)
·  In the domestic CV market ( 5T and Above), Eicher Trucks and Buses have recorded sales of 3501 units in Apr 2015 (YTD 13264) as compared to 2791 units(LYTD 11483) in Apr 2014, representing a growth of 25.6% (YTD Growth of 15.5%)
·  On the Exports front Eicher Trucks and Buses have recorded sales of 335 units in Apr 2015(YTD 1335) as compared to 643 units in Apr 2014(LYTD 1765).
·  Volvo trucks have recorded sales of 92 units in Apr 2015(YTD 349) as compared to 69 units (LYTD 236) in Apr 2014, a growth of 33.3% (YTD Growth of 47.9%)

JCB delivers ten backhoe loaders to earthquake hit Nepal

JCB today moved to support the relief effort in earthquake-hit Nepal with the donation of diggers and electrical power generators worth around $1 million.

Ten backhoe loaders were made available immediately to the Nepalese Army and are now at work in the areas worst hit by the disaster which has left more than 5,000 people dead and 10,000 injured.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said: “It is shocking to see the devastation caused by this earthquake and the resulting widespread damage and destruction. On behalf of JCB, I express my heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by this natural disaster. JCB will continue to help the Nepalese Government in very possible way.”

JCB supplied the backhoes through its dealer, MAW Enterprises Pvt Ltd, in Nepal. The electrical power generators are also en route from JCB India’s factory in Delhi to help stricken communities caught up in the quake.
The JCB backhoe loaders have been deployed to help ground relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake which measured 7.8 on the Richter Scale. In the coming weeks and months, the donated machines will be used in reconstruction efforts.

JCB has a long history of helping countries affected by major natural disasters, providing $500,000 worth of machines and generators to the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan struck in 2013. Machines were also donated when earthquakes struck in Haiti in 2010 and in China in 2008 and to southern India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia in 2004 following the Boxing Day Tsunami. 6e1cfd46-c7f1-4aad-8932-80d2938a6047_TempSmall

Isuzu Motors India signs a MoU with Government of Andhra Pradesh

Isuzu Motors India Private Limited, a subsidiary of Isuzu Motors, Japan, one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers, setting up its manufacturing plant at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh, today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Andhra Pradesh to facilitate investment by its suppliers in the state of Andhra Pradesh under the Automobile and Auto Component policy 2015 – 20. Mr.Takashi Kikuchi, Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India signed a MoU with the state government in the presence of Shri. N. Chandrababu Naidu, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, key dignitaries of the state and key officials from various auto component companies.
At the launch of Industrial Mission programme at Vishakapatnam, today, 7 auto component companies nominated by Isuzu Motors India, have signed a MoU with the state government. As per the policy, the auto component companies will receive various incentives and concessions from the state government for promoting automotive manufacturing in Andhra Pradesh. These auto component companies will explore possibilities of appropriate investments in the state in order to cater to the future requirements of the OEMs who will set up their manufacturing facilities in the region.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Takashi Kikuchi, Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India, said, “We are extremely pleased with the developments and we believe the policy for Automobile and Auto Components 2015-20 will immensely benefit the automobile sector, going forward. While Automobile and Auto Component manufacturers will benefit from the advantages laid out by the policy, it will also attract substantive and qualitative investment into the state. The policy is a win-win situation for investors and the state”
Isuzu is also in the process of tying-up with various component manufacturers across India towards its goal of achieving 100 per cent localisation for its products to be manufactured from its upcoming plant in Sri City.
Isuzu began construction of its proposed manufacturing plant site in Sri City, Chitoor District, Andhra Pradesh, in June 2014. The company had acquired 107 Acres of land in 2013 after signing a MoU with the Andhra Pradesh State Government in order to start automobile manufacturing operation in India. This new facility is likely to commence commercial operations by early 2016, with the initial production capacity at 50,000 units/ year. Isuzu will scale up the production capacity to 120,000 units/ year, with the accumulated investment of Rs. 3,000 Crore, and is expected to generate 2000 – 3000 jobs.


Arctic monsters

Working under arduous conditions, 9-axle 76-tonne truck-trailer combinations are turning out be popular in Finland.

In Finland, 9-axle, 76-tonne GCW longer truck-trailer combinations are becoming more and more popular since 2013, when the Government approved this new weight limit on the basis of a proposal of the Ministry of Transportation. This is the story of two such monster trucks: a Volvo FH 16 750 timber truck and a Sisu Polar gravel dump truck. The FH 16 combination is made up of a 4-axle truck, powered by a 16.1-litre D 16 K, 750 hp and 3.550 Nm peak torque engine, and a 5-axle trailer. According to Finnish regulation, the 76-tonne GCW is allowed for (at least) a 9-axle combination, provided that, at least, 65 per cent of the mass of the trailer is on axles fitted with twin tyres. The FH 16 750 is thus fitted with several specific technical features for a timber truck. First of all, it’s a full pneumatic suspension (8×4 rigid), with 2nd lift axle. There are also other geometries, say with 4th lift axle instead of the 2nd. The full pneumatic solution, that is gaining more and more success among Volvo timber trucks, now accounts for 85 per cent of Volvo timber truck sale volumes in Finland (where Volvo commands about 50 per cent of the total market share). Five years ago, the percentage of full-pneumatic suspension was no more than five per cent. The full-pneumatic solution allows the driver to lift an axle to increase the grip of driven axles. In addition, the driver can dump air from pneumatic suspension of one of the driven axles to increase the grip of the other axle.

In Finland, the total market for timber trucks ranges between 150 and 250 new trucks, per year. On an average, these trucks are changed every five years, and reach a total mileage of 1,50,000 to 2,50,000 km per year. Other technical features of the FH 16-750 timber truck include a special software for Volvo I-shift automated transmission to cope with extremely demanding conditions of timber transport along narrow and sometimes inadequate forest road. Moreover, the truck is fitted with a Hill-holder system, differential lock, sand splitter device (to increase the grip of driven axles) and a timber crane. Another key feature of the FH 16 750 timber truck is the so-called Volvo dynamic steering. An electronically controlled electric motor is attached to the steering shaft. The electric motor, which works together with the traditional hydraulic power steering, is regulated thousands of times per second by the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). In this way the irregularities of road surfaces, such as compacted snow or ice slabs, are automatically dampened by the system. This, in turn, decreases the driver’s workload, because he does not have to compensate for such irregularities by minor and continuous adjustment of the steering wheel. Along public roads and narrow forest roads, the dynamic steering really makes a difference. Despite the longer dimension (24 m long) and higher center of gravity (4.4 m high), the 9-axle truck-trailer combination proved to be easy to drive and stable.

The 5-axle, twin-tyre trailer followed the truck smoothly, without any problem. In Finland, we experienced a standard working day of a timber truck from Kontio – a world market leader – loghouse production headquarters in Pudasjärvi – 700 km north of Helsinki – to an Arctic pine forest and back. Climate conditions were pretty good, because of the sun and a relatively mild temperature by Finnish winter standards, say -17°C. According to experienced timber truck drivers, the most demanding conditions occur on icy and slippery surfaces when the temperature is around zero, or in deep-frozen conditions when the temperature drops to -35 or even -40°C. In the latter circumstances, the natural rubber of Scandinavian winter tyres becomes hard and friction on slippery surfaces becomes more problematic.

During the empty trip from Kontio headquarters to the Arctic pine forest we got stuck in the soft snow of a narrow forest road. We tried – without any result – to lift an axle; to increase the grip of the driven axles of our 8×4 timber truck. Then, we tried to clear the snow from driven axles using a shovel. We also tried to re-position the trailer, using the timber crane fitted on the truck. Since we got no result, we asked for help. A snowplough finally helped to free us. Loading cut-to-length tree trunks – prepared by an harvester – takes about 30 minutes in standard operating conditions. Roundwoods trucks are typically owned by family enterprises situated in countryside, where the entrepreneur participates actively in production work. According to 2010 statistics, there are about 900 timber trucking entrepreneurs, employing 2,600 truck drivers, with a fleet of 1,700 trucks. The average number of trucks per enterprise is less than two. Roundwood logistics in Finland is controlled by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems – owned by wood procurement companies. In general, each company has its own ICT system. ICT systems like LogForce, developed by software house Fifth Element, covers all the planning and vehicle software of the haulage contractor to include transport orders, scheduling, stock management, messaging and map functionality.

Sisu Polar Euro 6 range

The second 76-tonne, 9-axle combination tested in Finland was a 21,89 m long Sisu Polar rock gravel truck-trailer. The 10×4 truck was fitted with a Mercedes-Benz Euro 6, 6-in-line OM 473 15.6-litre engine (with high-performance engine brake), rated at 625 hp (3,000 Nm peak torque). Engine power is transmitted to rear axles by Mercedes-Benz Powershift 3, 16-speed automated transmission – as in the vehicle under test – or by Eaton Fuller RTLO22198B 18-speed unsynchronized manual gearbox (optional). Sisu Polar line-up includes Sisu Rock dump trucks, Sisu Works road maintenance trucks, Sisu Timber (timber truck version), Sisu Roll, demountable trucks and Sisu Carrier, machine transport trucks. In addition to these models, Sisu Work plus is now available, which features a combination of road maintenance and demountable applications. Cab, engine, transmission and core electrical/electronic systems of Sisu Polar are based on Mercedes-Benz Arocs technology. Sisu Polar 10×4 proved to be easy to maneouver, thanks to three steering axles. The first axle can be steered by 30°, the second by 16°, while the fifth can be counter-steered by 13°.

In this configuration, the turning radius of the entire 21.89 m combination is 12.5 m. On uneven surfaces, such as compacted snow, ice slabs, or during tight maneouvers with 76-tonne GCW, the Servotwin steering system with electronic steering power assistance makes a difference in terms of comfort for the driver (because less corrections of the steering wheel are needed) and vehicle handling. OM 473 engine brake, with a maximum braking power of 475 kW, can substitute foundation brakes in 90 per cent of the operating conditions. Despite the full-mechanical suspension system, the driving comfort during on-road applications proved to be quite high. Sisu Polar features two different frame heights: 300 mm U-profile with inner reinforcement, and 460 mm C-profile for heavy duty tasks.

Heavier combinations in Finland

The 76-tonne, 9-axle combinations are not the heaviest ones in Finland. Five special permits regarding 33 m, 80-tonne truck-combinations have been granted so far to ‘Speed to run’ on six different road channels, and one 31 m, 94-tonne to Orpe. Some 10 to 15 more applications by three different companies have been handed to the road safety authority Trafi and to the Ministry of Transport.

Orpe is the only transport company with one permit to run with a 31 m (application was for 102-tonne according to axle weights of 12 axle) 94-tonne, 12 axle timber truck on very specified conditions for a trial period till 31 December, 2019. Only specially trained drivers are accepted, to run on roads and routes accepted by the Ministry. All brakes have to be electric EBS. Transports are forbidden when weather conditions or forecasts by the Meteorological Institute are declared “very bad or very bad road conditions.”

The behaviour of the whole vehicle combination has to be continuously controlled by cameras on the vehicle. A report of the routes driven, vehicle behaviour and road conditions have to be delivered every month to the Trafi. The entire vehicle combination has to be passed on to the authorities for testing for no longer than three days whenever Trafi or the Ministry gives notice.

Speed has five 33 m long, 80-tonne truck combinations running from Helsinki and Kotka harbours, to cities to the north and to the east, on five special routes covering some 120 to 200 km of length accepted by the Trafi and the Ministry of Transport. These trucks will carry two 40 ft ‘Jumbo’ containers or four 20 ft containers.

CV is an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY). Being a part of this association gets the magazine exclusive articles, specially written by IToY jury members.

Mercedes-Benz unveils Concept V-ision e plug-in hybrid


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Launched at the 2015 Geneva show, the plug-in hybrid concept van, Concept V-ision is aimed at luxury travel. It is also aimed at business travellers. Flaunting designo titanium alubeam paint and a sporty-aerodynamic styling, the van concept is based on the V-Class, and features executive seats in the rear that can recline to a lying position inclination of up to 49 degrees at a push of a button. They include integrated calf supports, separate footrests, additional pillows, a three-stage heating and ventilation system apart from a massage feature. The executive seats can be combined with standard individual seats or optional seat benches as well. Two foldable 35 x 35 cm tables and two iPad holders are integrated into the driver and front-passenger seat backrests. These may bring the concept van up to speed in areas of comfort and convenience, it is the plug-in hybrid tech that makes it stand out. Promising powerful propulsion, the plug-in hybrid system, consisting of a 210 hp four-cylinder gasoline engine that develops a maximum torque of 350 Nm, and an electric motor that does 90 kW and 340 Nm of torque, has a total power output of 333 hp and a torque of 600 Nm. Guaranteeing a power packed performance, the concept van has a rated fuel consumption of less than 3.0 litres per 100 km, and can travel up to 50 km in an all-electric mode.

Demonstrating the potential a Mercedes-Benz van will offer in the future when it comes to accommodating the customers wishes and market demands according to Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, the Concept V-ision sprints from 0 to 100 kmph in 6.1 seconds. This makes this hybrid quicker than the current V 250 BlueTEC top engine variant. With a top speed of 206 kmph, the NEDC fuel consumption of 3.0 litres per 100 km corresponds to CO2 emissions of 71 g per km. Capable of travelling up to 50 km in an all-electric mode if driven at a maximum speed of 80 kmph, offering short emission free trips, the energy for the electric motor is stored in a high-voltage lithium-ion battery with a total capacity of 13.5 kWh. The battery can be recharged using an external power source. An intelligent drive-system management program automatically selects the ideal combination of combustion engine and an electric motor. The range of options includes a nearly silent electrical start (silent start), use of the electric motor to support the gasoline engine during acceleration (boost), and energy recovery (recuperation) during braking and when the vehicle is coasting. All recovered energy is stored in the battery which can be used for electric driving or the boost function. Drivers can also manage hybrid interaction manually and choose from different modes like hybrid, e-mode, e-save and charge. “Our pioneering Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid technology has enabled us to increase the output of the most powerful V-Class at the moment by 105 kW. And, while we have lowered fuel consumption to the level of a compact,” concludes Mornhinweg.