Date: Tuesday, August 4, 2020   |   Author: James Dallas

With the lockdown easing a host of brands have revealed new middleweight contenders. James Dallas rounds up the highlights


The lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic has decimated new van sales in the dominant 2.5-3.5t sector, as it has in every other corner of the market.

The majority of business that did take place over the past few months, however, was focused on this segment covering medium and large vans.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), of the 108,876 LCVs sold in the first half of the year (down 44.6% year-on-year), 68,329 were vans weighing between 2.5t and 3.5t – a near identical sales drop of 44.5%.

The Ford Transit Custom remained easily the UK’s biggest-selling van in the year to 30 June with 16,369 units delivered, but two other medium vans featured in the top 10: the Vauxhall Vivaro at number four (6,054) and the VW Transporter at six (5,040). 

With the lockdown measures gradually easing it was encouraging to see manufacturers edging back to something approaching business as usual.

The PSA Group led the way with a virtual launch of its technically identical electric medium vans the Citroen e-Dispatch, Peugeot e-Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro-e.

They will be powered by a 136hp motor and a choice of either a 50kWh or 75kWh battery, for a range of 143 miles (230km) or 205 miles (330km) respectively and will arrive in showrooms in September, although customers can put in orders now.

PSA promotes the vans by reassuring operators they share many of the virtues of their ICE counterparts, such as a 1.9m height, which allows access to underground car parks and a meaty maximum payload of 1,275kg, just 115kg less than the top whack on the diesel range. PSA admits, however, that the range drops by 5km for every 100kg of payload on board.

Load volumes are identical, going from the 5.0m3 of the Compact versions up to 6.6m3.

PSA claims an electric van is a suitable choice for a substantial proportion of operators because 44% of them never drive more than 300km in a day.

The three electric vans van can be rapid-charged at 100kW. This means the 50kWh battery can be charged to 80% in 30 minutes, rising to 45 minutes for the 75kWh battery. The group estimates seven out of 10 customers will opt for the larger battery.

Both batteries come with an eight-year, 160,000km warranty covering up to 70% charge and a certificate that guarantees the battery capacity for resale.

After a Covid-induced delay, market leader Ford has revealed details of a new traction-enhanced Transit Custom Trail featuring a mechanical limited-slip differential (mLSD). 

Ford also says new Active variants of the Transit Custom and passenger-carrying Tourneo Custom will feature extra body cladding and the option of an mLSD for enhanced traction on loose, slippery or soft surfaces, while an SUV-inspired exterior aims to add visual appeal.

The Trail gets oversized Ford lettering in the matte black grille with additional black cladding around the front and rear lower bumpers and side panels, complemented by 16in alloy wheels and Trail logos on the front doors. It can also be specified with roof rails and running boards.

Developed in partnership with driveline technology specialists Quaife, the mLSD automatically transfers engine torque in low grip conditions to the wheel with the most traction. 

In showrooms now, the Custom Trail starts at £29,250 and the Custom Active starts at £30,000 (prices exclude VAT).

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed prices and specs for the facelifted version of its Vito medium van (pictured below).

It can be specced as a three-seater panel van or a six-seater crew van, and comes in three different lengths: 4,895mm, 5,140mm and 5,370mm.

Four diesel engines are on offer, producing 100hp, 134hp, 160hp and 187hp. The 100hp engine comes with front-wheel drive, the 134hp engine with front or rear-wheel drive, and the 160hp and 187hp engines with rear-wheel drive only.

Prices start from £22,845, excluding VAT, for the entry-level Progressive model.


Ford Transit Custom Trail July 2020

Ford Transit Custom Active July 2020

Mercedes-Benz Vito September 2020

Citroen e-Dispatch September 2020

Peugeot e-Expert September 2020

Vauxhall Vivaro-e September 2020  



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