Van market won't collapse say bosses

Date: Thursday, April 24, 2008

Soaring diesel prices, a crisis in the housing market and the credit crunch will not lead to a steep downturn in the demand for light commercials this year say van industry bosses.
“The market is still buoyant, with no indication of it cooling,” says Vauxhall managing director, Bill Parfitt. The home delivery industry remains healthy, he points out; and most of the goods ordered over the internet or by phone are delivered by vans.

“I see no sign of a decline in demand,” says Stephen Kimber, UK director, commercial vehicles, at Ford. “I think the market will be about the same size as it was in 2007,” says Robert Handyside, UK commercial vehicle operations manager at Citroën.

“Dealers are not telling me that they're losing business because customers cannot fund the acquisition of vehicles thanks to the credit crunch,” says Gerry Clarke, UK director at Fiat Professional, the Italian manufacturer's name for its light commercial operation.

“I think total van sales will be approximately the same this year as they were last year,” he continues. “We're probably not heading for an increase, but I don't think orders will dip.”

Not everybody is quite so optimistic. “There are indications that the van market is creaking a bit and total sales could fall by between five and 10 per cent this year,” says Robin Woolcock, UK managing director at Volkswagen Group. “However, I do not believe that the economy is in recession and I would stress that a 10 per cent drop is the absolute worst-case scenario.”

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