Citroen’s light van burst onto the scene at the end of 2018 and is now established as one of the best in the business, James Dallas reports.
Having captured the International Van of the Year award for 2019, followed by What Van?’s LCV of the Year Award in the same year, prizes it shared with its PSA stablemates the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo, Citroen’s Berlingo has consolidated its position at the forefront of the light van sector by retaining the What Van? Light Van of the Year award for 2020.
This time the Berlingo is joined on the podium not only by the Partner and Combo but also by the Toyota Proace City, which is now built upon the same platform too.
The Berlingo has long been Citroen’s strongest performer in the UK and in 2019 it finished as the ninth best-selling LCV overall, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with registrations of 13,492 sandwiching the model between its siblings the Partner and Combo. Individually, the PSA trio are breathing down the neck of the UK’s most popular light van, Ford’s Transit Connect, sales of which reached 15,477 in 2019, but cumulatively they are way out in front, by 165%.
Citroen admits that being recognised by What Van? has helped the Berlingo on its way.
“With What Van? occupying a strong position in the LCV media marketplace, retaining the Light Van of the Year award has helped to strengthen [the] new Berlingo van’s reputation and raise its market profile,” says Citroen’s LCV business sales manager, Ed Hickin.
“The van has been very well received by the market in its first year, which has contributed to Citroen UK LCV sales growth of 5% above average growth for the UK LCV market in 2019.”
Citroen’s next best-seller last year was the Relay large van with 7,236 units shifted, followed by the medium-sized Dispatch on 6,355. All made it into the top 20.
Citroen has traditionally performed more strongly with small and local businesses than corporate customers, but the volumes are now more balanced.
“In 2019 the customer split for new Berlingo van [was] roughly 50/50 between SME (46%) and fleet (54%),” Hickin says.
Citroen offers the Berlingo in two sizes, M and XL, and in four trim levels – X, Worker, Enterprise and Driver – and the dominant engine is a 1.5-litre Blue HDi diesel with outputs of 75hp, 100hp and 130hp.
A 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine is also available but accounts for only a small proportion of sales, Hickin admits.
He says the most popular combination is M length in Enterprise trim with the 75hp powertrain married to the six-speed manual gearbox, with a payload option of 650kg.
However, he adds: “Blue HDi 100 M with ‘1,000’ [kg] payload option is also a popular choice.
“Top specification Driver was the second most popular trim after Enterprise [in 2019]. The long-wheelbase XL variant accounted for 8% of sales.”
Hickin claims the versatile light van is proving to be popular with businesses operating within multiple trades: building contractors, electrical engineers, plumbing and heating engineers, delivery firm couriers, florists, maintenance workers, security staff, domestic appliance engineers, air-conditioning installers, office supplies, shop owners, handymen, bakeries, cleaning and valeting firms, painters and decorators, pest control businesses, butchers, parts suppliers, caterers, dry cleaners, locksmiths and more.