Whether it’s picking up, or on all fours, this sector of the LCV market is nothing if not changeable, report Ian Shaw and James Dallas.
For much of last year and into this, the pick-up sector provided a glimmer of light in an overall market that seemed to have entered a spiral of steady, if gentle, decline.
Its buoyancy was also in stark contrast to crashing sales in the niche 4x4 sector, which had started to look like the basket case of the LCV industry.
In 2017 pick-up sales were up by 7.8% to 51,415 units, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in an overall market that declined by 3.6%.
Sales of 4x4 LCVs with pick-ups taken out of the equation, however, plummeted by 90% to a paltry 443 for the full year.
But as we neared the halfway point of 2018, the market complexion had changed with sales of pick-ups starting to flag whereas the 4x4 segment had bounced back. Taking May as a snapshot month, 4x4 registrations shot up by 675% to 217 units, compared to the same month a year earlier when only 28 examples found homes.
Niche or not, the big guns are involved in the sector: Ford, VW and Renault market all-wheel drive derivatives of their respective Transit, Crafter and Master large vans, Mercedes has recently introduced a 4x4 version of its new Sprinter, and MAN has joined the fray with a 4x4 derivative of its TGE.