Citroen’s light van the Berlingo has always been the manufacturer’s strongest performer in the UK and the new model, which burst onto the scene towards the end of 2018, looks set to continue this pattern.

Along with its PSA stablemates the Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo, the Berlingo promptly captured both the International Van of the Year (IVOTY) and the What Van? Commercial Vehicle of the Year awards for 2019.

Such prestigious recognition is testament to the fact that the Berlingo can more than hold its own against the best of the rest such as the Ford Transit Connect and Volkswagen Caddy.

Two wheelbase lengths are available – short (L1) and long (L2) with a 350mm increase between the two sizes – while the total length for the L1 van is 4.4m, increasing to 4.7m for the L2.

Payloads go up to a class-leading 1,050kg while load volume extends to 4.4m3.

Power comes initially from a choice of two diesel engines. Due to emissions regulations, a 1.6-litre Euro6.1 engine will be on sale in some markets, including the UK, for the first nine months of production – however, a more powerful (and more impressive) but smaller-capacity 1.5-litre BlueHDi Euro 6.2-compliant engine is also available with a 130hp output.

This engine will supersede the 1.6 and still be available with the same 75hp and 100hp outputs.

Urban operators in particular will also find it worthwhile considering the 1.2-litre Puretech petrol engine with 110hp and 130hp outputs, which will join the line-up in 2019. The higher-powered petrol engine will get the slick new EAT8 auto transmission. This gearbox is also available on the 130hp diesel model and incorporates a stop function with the adaptive cruise control that allows the vehicle to slow to a standstill and then resume the cruise when in traffic.

A pair of useful and new-to-segment technological enhancements available as options are the onboard weighing system and the surround rear-vision camera. The first alerts you to the fact that you are at 80% of your total weight capacity, and then again when you are overloaded. The second system gives you a rear and side view of what is around you on a five-inch colour screen positioned in place of the rear-view mirror, along with guidance lines when reverse gear is engaged.

According to Ed Hickin, Citroen’s LCV business sales manager, winning the What Van? award was “brilliant timing, coming on the back of the IVOTY”.

Referring to the light van sector, Hickin claims: “We were the first in the market in the late ’90s. This [new model launch] allows us to take the van back to the market at the perfect time.”

Two-pronged approach

Citroen has often been associated more closely with small businesses than large fleets when it comes to LCVs, but Hickin insists that the brand is taking a two-pronged approach with the Berlingo, with sales to fleets of up to 50 vehicles handled by the dealer network and corporate deals handled directly by the manufacturer.

Hickin’s main focus since he returned to Citroen’s retail operation in September, having spent time working as an area fleet manager for the brand, has been on developing its network of Business Centres and Business Active sites.

He initially launched the Business Centre programme in 2006 but says problems developed when the network grew too quickly, with some dealerships having signed up without being equipped to meet the required standard.

The initiative started with 30 sites but this expanded to 75 by 2009.

“That was too big – not all of them could cope with the investment,” Hickin says.

Berlingo Rear class=

Rear-vision system in action on the Berlingo


Ed Hickins Of class=

Ed Hickin, LCV business sales manager

(Continued from page 1) Although the network had reduced to 65 Business Centres by 2018, he says this was still too many of the outlets, which are expected to sell at least 100, and up to 1,000, vans a year. Hickin has cut the number of Business Centres to 40, but in a two-tier approach has also established a network of 75 Business Active dealerships, which are a sort of light version of the fully fledged Business Centres, retailing between 40 to 100 units a year.

The Business Active sites can have a member of staff dedicated solely to light commercial vehicles but are not obliged to. It’s a “pragmatic solution for dealers”, he explains. With a total retail network of 145 outlets, Hickin says the programme, which officially launched on 1 January, means the vast majority of dealerships have a degree of specialism in vans.

The Business Centres themselves have two employees dedicated to vans so that one is always available on site if the other is out on business.

This expertise is important, Hickin explains, in helping the firm’s customers to make the right choices for their businesses.

“Customers still come in thinking they want a particular thing but they may want something else,” he says.

As well as sales the Business Centres offer loan vans. This could be for when a customer’s van is in the workshop or when they are waiting for a new one to be delivered. Loan vans, Hickin points out, can also act as sales tools if they impress the customer.

The Business Centres also have bigger lifts, wider entrances and longer opening hours.

They must also display at least one vehicle from the Ready to Run conversion scheme.

With a strong commercial vehicle retail operation established, Hickin claims: “We don’t have to run around like some other manufacturers to persuade people to sell LCVs.”

Hickin says that the manufacturer is looking for a 10% rise in van sales this year, which is an ambitious target in the current economic and political climate.

He is targeting 11,500 sales to businesses with fewer than 50 vans and 14,000 to national fleets.

The breakdown for smaller fleets will be at least 6,000 Berlingos, 3,000 Dispatch medium vans and 2,000 large Relay vans, he predicts, with a similar ratio in higher volumes for large fleets.

Citroen Relay class=Relay conversions

Ready to Run conversions are all based on the Relay model with the main focus being on the core tipper, dropside, Luton, box and curtainside bodies, all of which are on the Citroen price list. Later on this year minibuses will join the line-up too.

When it comes to electric vans, Citroen does not claim to be a pioneer but is increasing its focus on the market. Beyond a handful going to local authorities the Berlingo Electric has remained on the margins. Hickin says a few EVs based on the previous generation remain in stock but that technical studies on a new one, and an electric Relay, are underway, with the models expected to break cover later this year. Meanwhile, a Dispatch Electric is due in the second quarter of 2020, he says.


As a European company with a strong presence in the UK, particularly with Vauxhall’s Luton plant set to build the new Vivaro medium van, which is a re-badged version of the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert, both of which the Vauxhall model has historically outsold in the UK, the PSA Group is keeping a close eye on how developments with the Brexit process will affect its trading operation.

But whatever the outcome of the political wranglings, the company is determined that its UK-based business operations will continue to function as smoothly as possible and has put in place a contingency plan covering human resources, taxation, customs, logistics, production, regulation, the supply chain and IT to ensure this is the case regardless of the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

WV? Awards 2019