COMTRANS 2017 has once again demonstrated its position as the leading trade fair for decision makers in the commercial vehicle and transport industry in Eastern Europe. From September 4 to 9, 2017, 217 exhibitors from around the world presented innovations and current products at the Crocus Expo Center in Moscow. In addition to all the Russian and Western European truck manufacturers, the world’s leading van, bus and trailer manufacturers as well as many renowned suppliers and component manufacturers were also represented.
More than 20,500 visitors came to the exhibition halls on the outskirts of Moscow. This is 27% more than in 2015, when the economic crisis in the Russian transport sector was clearly noticeable. Also, the total exhibition area increased by 5% compared to 2015 and reached 41.897 m². Director Sergey Rybchak of the exhibition organizer ITEMF Expo said: “The commercial vehicle market in Russia and the neighbouring countries has seen considerable growth in recent months. This also had a positive impact on COMTRANS. Exhibitors told us about a generally friendly mood in the market and an increased demand for current, environmentally friendly and economical vehicle models with modern technology. The increased interest of the trade visitors and the numerous premieres proves that COMTRANS continues to be the second most important international commercial vehicle fair, after IAA Commercial Vehicles.” COMTRANS takes place every two years, alternating with IAA Commercial Vehicles.
First Moscow Commercial Vehicle Summit
For the first time, within the scope of COMTRANS, the Moscow Commercial Vehicle Summit took place on September 5 and 6, organised by ITEMF Expo and the Association of European Businesses. More than 190 professionals from the transport industry as well as from associations and public authorities participated in the conference discussing pressing issues of “The Future of Commercial Vehicles in Russia”. While the first day of the event was dedicated to cargo transport – Cargo Vehicles Day – the Summit’s second day – Passenger Vehicles Day – was dedicated to passenger and up to 6-ton GVW light-duty commercial transport.
Traditionally within the framework of the COMTRANS show, the 17th reward ceremony “The Best Commercial Vehicle of the Year in Russia” took place which is one of the most respected vehicle contests in Russia. Beside the categories for Truck, Van, Bus and Prospect of the Year, for the first time the jury also awarded the Trailer of the Year and the Person of the Year. The “The Best Commercial Vehicle of the Year in Russia” went to Scania for their Next Generation, Volkswagen Crafter was awarded Van/LCV of the year, while Setra 500 Comfort Class won the bus category. PAO Avtodiesel (YaMZ) received the Special Award» for achievements in development of Russian market. Prospect of the Year is the Belarussian Truck MAZ-5440М9, Trailer/Semitrailer of the Year goes to Schmitz S.KO. Cool. The jury elected Yuri Vainstein, Technical Manager ООО MZ TONAR as Person of Year and while the van GAZelle Next was awarded Legend of Automotive Industry.
Truck manufacturers launch debut fireworks
The current growth in the Russian commercial vehicle market has encouraged many Russian, but especially international exhibitors to participate in COMTRANS 2017. The latter have lost market shares in the crisis and now want to regain them. In addition to the “Big Seven” Western European truck manufacturers also manufacturers from Turkey, China, Korea and Japan were represented with their products. With one of the most extensive presentations in the van segment, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles demonstrated its ambitions in Eastern Europe. While the trailer manufacturers predominantly exhibited proven technology, electrical drives and gas powered buses were highly regarded in the bus presentations.
Many exhibitors used the COMTRANS 2017 as a platform for their world’s firsts or the first presentation of their products at a Russian trade fair. World premieres were mainly celebrated by the Russian truck bus and LCV manufacturers.
As in the previous years, market leader KAMAZ caused a sensation by introducing the new KAMAZ 54901. The cab of this new long-distance truck is based on the current Mercedes-Benz Actros and is to be produced in the new plant, currently being built by the joint venture Daimler KAMAZ RUS. The vehicle is to be equipped with inline six-cylinder Euro 5 and Euro 6 engines of the new KAMAZ P6 series with an output of 380 hp to 550 hp. As transmission KAMAZ will use ZF’s fully automatic transmission Traxon. KAMAZ also wants to offer the new model with numerous driver assistance systems. According to KAMAZ CEO Sergey Kogogin, the market launch of KAMAZ 54901 is to take place within the next five years. The other debuts at the KAMAZ booth were less spectacular, such as the three-axle 54909 with selectable hydraulic drive on the front axle or the KAMAZ-65208 with a hybrid drive, which was equipped with a garbage collection system, a typical application for this type of drive.
With a total of ten world premieres on the stand, the Russian LCV, truck and bus manufacturer GAZ set the scene. In particular, the concept vehicle Sobol All-Terrain Crawler – an amphibious off-road vehicle – as well as the off-road concept truck Vepr Next based on the light truck series GAZon attracted visitors. Less obvious was the expansion of the URAL truck range, which in the case of the new URAL Next 6×4 aims to open up new markets also in the on-road and light construction segment. In addition, GAZ presented for the first time a right-hand drive URAL Next 6×6 for export markets. In the light truck segment, GAZ also presented new developments: The medium-duty truck GAZon Next is now available with a permissible total weight of 10.0 tonnes, which corresponds to one ton more payload compared to the heaviest GAZon-Next model so far. A new 12.4-liter in-line cylinder rounded off the premiere fireworks of GAZ on the COMTRANS 2017. The YMZ-770 with common rail injection will be available as Euro 5 and Euro 6 version. Power output for both on-road and off-road applications ranges from 360 to 550 hp.
Belarusian manufacturer MAZ (Minsk Automobile Factory) presented three new truck models at COMTRANS 2017. The MAZ-5440S9-520-03 tractor is equipped with a new, 420-horsepower six-cylinder Euro 5 engine from Yaroslavl engine factory with SCR exhaust aftertreatment. The interior of the cabin has been completely reworked. In addition to a new dashboard with new division and more valuable materials, the MAZ-5440S9-520-03 also received more space for the upper berth. Also new: the three-axle MAZ-643029-1420-012 with 430 hp engine from Weichai Power as well as the twelve-tone truck MAZ-4381SO for city deliveries.
While Volvo – market leader among the Western European manufacturers in Russia –presented its current models FH and FMX in different versions and equipment, Scania celebrated the Russian debut of the New Generation with the S, R and G series. Beside the flagship truck S730, a R500 as well as a G410 in simpler specification were on display. The new Scania generation is available in Russia since August 2017. In the immediate vicinity visitors could admire the new DAF XF, which also celebrated Russian premiere at COMTRANS 2017.
Also the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz Actros is new to the Russian market. However, potential customers may have to be patient, since the new model will only be available in Russia in 2018. Then the new Actros, like its predecessor, will be assembled in the factory of Daimler KAMAZ RUS in Naberezhnye Chelny. From 2019, the production of the cabin is to take place in a new plant, which is still under construction. Due to the conversion of production in Wörth, Germany, the main plant for Mercedes-Benz trucks, Daimler plans to sell only the new Actros generation from 2020 onwards. According to Heiko Schulze, CEO of Daimler KAMAZ RUS, the company has set itself the target of gaining further market shares and becoming the No. 1 among the “Big Seven” of the Western European importer brands in Russia.
Ford Trucks is ambitious to get a larger piece of the cake and catch up with the Big Seven in Russia. At COMTRANS 2017, the Turkish truck manufacturer presented the new 1848T and 3542T tractors, as well as the 3542D tipper, which were specially configured for the Russian market. Ford Trucks equips these vehicles with a new generation of engines with higher torque and longer maintenance intervals. Ford Trucks will also offer a cold climate package, which includes cold climate fluids, cabin heating and a heated windscreen.
The Asian truck manufacturers also showed a strong presence at COMTRANS. The Chinese company Foton from Beijing presented the Auman EST for the first time in Russia. The long-distance truck based on the Mercedes-Benz Actros is powered by a Cummins Euro 5 engine combined with the fully automatic transmission Traxon from ZF. The Korean manufacturer Hyundai Trucks as well as the Japanese manufacturers Hino and Isuzu also celebrated various Russia premieres. All three brands cover the segment of medium and light commercial vehicles and now equip their new vehicles for Russia with Euro 5 engines.
Light commercial vehicles gain ground.
The LCV market in Russia is also experiencing significant growth. According to Russian Automotive Market Research, this segment of the commercial vehicle market grew by 22.9 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to the previous year. Correspondingly positive was the mood among the LCV manufacturers, many of whom used COMTRANS to present their latest development, like, Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant (UAZ), Russia’s second-largest LCV manufacturer. UAZ celebrated the world premiere of a completely new pickup series. The UAZ Profi offers the possibility for various flatbed, box or special superstructures for craftsmen or municipal use. Market leader GAZ presented the transporter GAZelle Next 4.6, which offers 1.5 to 2.62 tons more payload than already available 3.5 ton models. The vehicle is equipped with a new rear axle as well as disc brakes on all wheels. Some Russian firsts were held by international LCV manufacturers. For example, Mercedes-Benz presented the concept car of the X-Class pickup in addition to various variants of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Sprinter Classic. The noble pickup with the star is to be available in Russia in the second half of 2018. The new VW Crafter set the scene at the remarkably large Volkswagen booth. The new van gave its Russian debut at COMTRANS 2017, as did the new Ford Transit, which was on display in several different variants at the Ford stand.
Trailer manufacturers keep showing presence at COMTRANS
The manufacturers of trailers and superstructures were well represented on COMTRANS 2017, in particular the large international players. Schmitz Cargobull announced the launch of the S.KO refrigerated semi-trailer as well as the new generation of curtainsider S.CS for Russia. For the first time on a Russian show, Kögel showed the 3-axle tipper trailer with 27 m³ load volume, as well as Kögel’s own trailer axle KTA. Other international trailer manufacturers such as Krone, Wielton, Meiller, CIMC, Lohr Kässbohrer, Nursan and Koluman presented their current vehicles for the Eastern European market.
News from the world of buses
In addition to the truck and van manufacturers, numerous bus manufacturers also took advantage of COMTRANS 2015 for the presentation of their new models and their current model ranges. Primarily, the domestic brands scored points with innovations. KAMAZ, for example, was able to look far into the future with the concept of an autonomous driving People Mover developed together with the NAMI Research Center. The driverless vehicle can accommodate up to 12 people and is intended to drive up to 40 km/h. Passengers may tell the electrically powered minibus their destination or stop request by means of a smartphone app. On the other hand, the KAMAZ-6282 electric bus, which was displayed together with a quick charging station, showed the current developments at KAMAZ bus. The bus is equipped with a lithium-titanium battery and achieves a range of 70 kilometers. According to KAMAZ, the battery charges in only 20 minutes.
GAZ is starting with electric buses, too, both in the midibus segment under the GAZ brand and with city buses of the LIAZ brand. For example, an electrically powered prototype based on the LIAZ-5292 low-floor bus was shown at COMTRANS, which has already completed an extensive practice test in Moscow with more than 13,500 kilometers operational performance. As a further novelty the manufacturer showed the Vector Next bus with low floor access and wheelchair space in the rear. GAZ also offers the Vector Next in a new enhanced comfort long-haul modification with tinted windows and luggage racks. Also new is the Kursor LE, a midibus, which thanks to the raised rear area seats 27 seats and is also suitable for poor road conditions.
A MAN celebrated the first public presentation of the new MAN Lion’s Coach at the COMTRANS 2017 with a great premiere show. The completely redesigned coach fulfills the requirements for increased rollover resistance, is fully equipped with LED lights, also with the main headlights. Latest driver assistance systems such as MAN EfficientCruise, EfficientRoll or LGS are available. For a start the MAN Lion’s Coach is available as 12.10-meter-long two-axle or 13-meter-long three-axle version.
“COMTRANS has hardly ever before seen such a quantity and quality of vehicle premieres and presentations,” says Director Sergey Rybchak. “This underlines the importance of this exhibition for manufacturers as well as for visitors.” After the positive experience in recent years, the trade fair organizer ITEMF Expo is expecting continued cooperation with the Russian association OAR and the international association of the automotive industry OICA. The next COMTRANS is expected to take place at the Crocus Expo Center in Moscow in September 2019.