VW-owned truck maker shortcuts to new category.

Not many people realize that Volkswagen has a huge presence in the heavy truck market, holding majority stakes in two of the world’s biggest truck makers, Sweden’s Scania and Germany’s MAN. The latter has leveraged the connection to enter a new market segment with a rebadged version of the new Volkswagen Crafter.

Until now, the MAN range has started in the heavy 7.5-ton (16,500 pound) category. This new TGE serves the lightweight 3.0 to 5.5-ton (6,600 to 12,100 pounds) category.

The only real differences between the TGE and Crafter are the front grille and some minor trim details. Though MAN hasn’t confirmed as much, it is likely to be built in the same Polish factory that turns out the Crafter, as well.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder diesel engine with single or twin turbochargers, in power outputs ranging from 102 horsepower up to 177 hp. Front, rear, and four-wheel-drive layouts are available; a six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while an eight-speed automatic is optional.

For now, MAN is targeting the TGE at the distribution and construction industries. The panel van body is available with a choice of two wheelbases, three vehicle lengths and three body heights. At its biggest, the body has a volume of 646 cubic feet. Meanwhile, the chassis-cab is available with a single or double cab and whatever body is needed.

Production starts in April 2017, and it’ll be available across Europe by fall of that year. The chances of it launching in the United States to battle the Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster are slim, though.

Incidentally, the 1980s MAN G-Series truck used a cab based the VW LT, grandfather of the Crafter/TGE.

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