Following the recent Fiat-PSA Peugeot Citroen announcement of a new large van line for Europe, the rival Renault-General Motors Europe alliance has revealed updated medium and large models in the growing 2.8 to 3.5-ton gross weight segment.

GME entered this segment in 1999 by rebadging a Renault-built model as the Opel/Vauxhall Movano followed by the Renault Trafic rebadged as the Vivaro in 2001. Nissan subsequently joined the van alliance with its own versions named Primastar and Interstar.

The deal has paid off for GME - Opel commercial vehicle registrations have doubled from almost 80,000 in 2001 to around 160,000.

The updated GME 2.8-tonne Vivaro line has had a light exterior and interior restyle and, with the addition of two dropside versions, there are now two wheelbases, two roof heights, and five body variants available. The equipment range includes new features such as Park Pilot, and light and rain sensors (all are options).

Other new additions are two two-litre common-rail turbo-diesel engines. All power units meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, and the most powerful, the modified 2.5 CDTI, is fitted with a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter (DPF) as standard. A six-speed gearbox is standard with all diesel engines and the alternative two-litre 16V petrol alternative.

The Vivaro is also available with an automated Tecshift six-speed manual transmission, which can save up to 6% fuel and makes daily driving in city traffic much easier.

In its first full year of sales in 2002, 5,600 units of the 2.8-tonne Vivaro van were sold in Germany, and just over 30,000 in Europe. To the end of 2005, these figures increased to 10,500 (Germany) and 63,000 (Europe), thanks to the expanded product range with the Life, Tour and panel van with high roof variants.

This was a jump of 87.5% in Germany and 110% in Europe. With these increases, the Vivaro -named "Van of the Year 2006" in the United Kingdom - set a much faster pace than the 2.8-ton segment itself, which grew 12% in Germany and just under 30% in Europe from 2002 to 2005.

The 2007 Opel/Vauxhall Movano, in the 2.8 to 3.5-ton gross vehicle weight class has a new engine range based on the 2.5 CDTI - the three 2.5-litre common-rail turbo-diesels are now more powerful. The six-speed manual transmission handles has been upgraded and the automated manual Tecshift is optional with the 100hp entry-level version and the 120hp engine. A maintenance-free diesel particulate filter is optional with the 120hp 2.5 CDTI and standard with the 145hp model. ESPPlus is a new safety option for the panel van and Combi.

Renault has made similar changes to its Trafic and Master models. It claims "significant improvements" in dashboard assembly quality for both models, along with new upholstery and interior finish. The Master gets new cabin stowage facilities including two overhead parcel shelves with five-litre capacity and a two-litre cubby on the centre gearshift console.

Renault will offer the new Trafic with two wheelbases, two roof heights and three body types.

The larger Master offers three wheelbases, three roof heights and three body types.

Nissan has yet to announce its updated 2007 range but similar changes can be expected.

Vans for all four brands are built in France (Master, Movano, Interstar) while Trafic/Vivaro/Primastar production is split between plants in Spain and the UK.