Ford’s new Transit Courier small van will initially have the lowest volumes of its van range bar the Fiesta Van, but has the most growth potential, according to the company’s LCV product manager Mark Easton.
“It’s not a mature segment and there are relatively few competitors, and with the market pressures on running costs, emissions and urban dwelling, smaller vehicles are likely to be preferable,” Easton told What Van? “As we’ve not been in the segment before, we expect a lot
of conquest from existing players and a disproportionate share of a growing market.”
Although he admitted there will be a small degree of cannibalisation from the Fiesta Van, Easton expected it to be minimal because the vehicles are different enough in terms of types of users and capacities.
Easton did admit, though, that pushing the Courier’s residual values to the level he feels they should be at is a challenge in this sector.
“Even though they’ve beenaround since 2008, the used market has not quite assessed how to place small vans, so they’re less certain than [with] mature segments,” he said, pointing out that the Citroen Nemo, Fiat Fiorino and Peugeot Bipper trio that dominate thebaby van market don’t have the strongest RVs.
“We won’t get £2000 over them, but we’ve got a healthy RV advantage over the existing players,” he said, also refuting fears that the larger Transit Connect’s healthier residuals and therefore minimal difference in lease rate will also impact on Courier. “Customers will choose the vehicle that most closely fits their needs and gives lower operating costs,” he declared. “The lease cost may be close but more customers relate to running costs. People won’t buy a bigger van because it’s only £5 per month more – there are all sorts of costs that offset that.”
The Courier will also have a slower start as it’s the third of three major new models coming through this year, behind the Transit and Connect models, and it’s a new sector for the dealers to understand.
“Dealers have had a deluge of new product to take on and understand, and the Courier is
one they don’t know, haven’t had before and haven’t had the customers before,” said Easton. “It’ll take reorientation to work out who to sell to.”