SECTOR ANALYSIS – Small vans: Back by popular demand

Date: Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The small van market has seen diminishing returns, but the resurrection of an old favourite could change that, writes James Dallas.

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The light commercial vehicle market as a whole is undergoing a decline in 2018, with monthly fluctuations to some extent masking the overall trend.

When it comes to the smallest vans in the market, the annual picture is one that leaves the industry with mixed messages.

The bare numbers for this class – which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) categorises with a gross vehicle mass of less than 2.0t, thus covering more diminutive light vans as well as small vans – saw April bring encouraging news, at least if the month is viewed in isolation.

Volumes rose by an impressive 11%, with 1,940 models being registered against 1,747 during April 2017 in a market that as a whole was up by just 3.9%.

However, in a case of swings and roundabouts, the year-to-date figure was down by 3.6%, with 9,305 registrations in the first four months of 2018, compared to an overall dip of 2.3%.

But, as stated, small vans make up only a proportion of the sub-2.0t sector, where they rub shoulders with the lightest variants of the class above, including the Renault Kangoo, Mercedes Citan, Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo and Transit Connect.

In 2017, the Ford Transit Courier was the only small van to make it into the list of the year’s 25 best-selling LCVs, creeping in at number 25 with 4,114 units finding homes, according to the SMMT.

This could explain why, after a short absence, the manufacturer is bringing back its Fiesta Van, initially at least, in Sport Van mode. The brand had hoped the compact Courier cubed van would plug the gap left by its withdrawal of the popular car-derived model, but this did not prove to be the case.

In 2016, the last year the vehicles were both on sale, Ford shifted 4,076 Fiesta Vans, over 1,000 more registrations than it notched up for the Courier.


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