The UK new light commercial vehicle market overall is feeling the strain in 2018 due to persistent political turmoil and economic uncertainty creating nervousness in the business community and causing many van operators to put off buying new vehicles. 

The huge 2.5t to 3.5t gross vehicle mass (GVM) sector covering medium and large vans is not immune to the market climate and has fallen slightly behind where it was at the same time last year.

Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, comments: “While variations in buying cycles are a natural feature of the light commercials sector and demand is still at high levels, the overall trend is one of decline. Ongoing uncertainty and low business confidence are undoubtedly having an effect, therefore the government must address these concerns and create the conditions necessary for the market to prosper.”

Meanwhile, manufacturers are doing what they can to keep customers on board. Mercedes-Benz Vans has launched a new Approved Used Van Programme designed to further support customer needs, thanks to an enhanced warranty from Allianz Partners.

The scheme provides customers with a 24-month warranty on Mercedes-Benz vans up to four years old, in what is believed to be a first in the industry. In addition, vans aged between four and six years will be covered by a minimum of 12 months warranty, with the option to upgrade to 24 months warranty.

Covering the whole of the Mercedes-Benz Vans range, including the mid-sized Vito, the programme is designed to support the customer decision to purchase an Approved Used vehicle and ensure that owning and operating a vehicle is as stress-free as possible.

Mick Glover, head of used van remarketing at Mercedes-Benz Vans, says: “We’re proud to be launching a new 24-month warranty across our Approved Used Van Programme in response to the changing demands of our vast range of customers.

“With the support from Allianz Partners, we are proud to continue keeping businesses moving and fulfil the needs of the hard-working van drivers on the road today.”

Toyota is offering a three-day test drive of its Proace van in support of its latest contract hire and business user offers. The Proace weighs 2.9t and has a payload of up to 1,200kg with a load volume of 5.0m3.

Meanwhile, Nissan is offering a new range of three-year lease deals on its NV300 on up to 10,000 miles per year with or without the option of maintenance. This could be more attractive to the small business user than the packages more often aimed at large fleet operators.

Ford, which is already investigating how plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) could help in London, has now announced it will also begin testing in Valencia, Spain. The collaboration between Ford Smart Mobility, the regional government of Valencia and the Valencia City leadership, is designed to see how Transit Custom PHEV fleets could contribute to cleaner air targets and enhanced productivity.

“At Ford, we are committed to tackling urban mobility challenges, moving people and delivering goods and services through innovation and technology,” says Steven Armstrong, president and CEO, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Equipped with telematics and geofencing technology, 20 Transit Custom PHEV vans are being used for the 12-month trial in London that Ford launched earlier this year, working with Transport for London and a variety of fleet customers, ranging from the Metropolitan Police to courier services and construction firms.

On the horizon…

Ford Transit Custom PHEV     Summer 2019
Vauxhall Vivaro     Autumn 2019