Following the Covid-induced slump, an economic recovery and a raft of new models should trigger an upturn in the compact van sector.
The lockdowns introduced last year to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic took an inevitable toll on the new van market. Sales of the smallest compact vans weighing less than 2.0t were hit particularly hard, falling by 34.4% to 17,158.
Light vans in the 2.0t-2.5t category had an easier ride but registrations still declined by 15.6% to 47,499 units.
Fortunes did not improve in January 2021, with sales of vans weighing between 2.0t and 2.5t falling by 16.2% to 3,659, while registrations of vans weighing less than 2.0t collapsed by 50.1% to 1,231.
In the low-volume month of February, sales of 2.0t to 2.5t vans rose 9% to 2,940, but the sub-2.0t sector continued to suffer and was down 25% to 689 units.
Four light vans appeared in the top ten sellers list for the first two months of the year; the Peugeot Partner, Vauxhall Combo, Ford Transit Connect and Citroen Berlingo.
A big name with some catching up to do is Volkswagen’s Caddy, but luckily help is at hand with the new-generation Caddy 5 set to arrive by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Four engines will be available – 75hp, 102hp and 122hp diesels (the latter of which is new), as well as a 114hp petrol option.
The 75hp and 102hp engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, while the two more powerful engines can be purchased with an optional seven-speed auto, and the 122hp diesel is on offer with four-wheel drive.
Standard and Maxi models will be available with prices ranging from £17,800 to £26,850, excluding VAT.
Volkswagen will not market an electric Caddy 5, preferring to wait for the arrival of the battery-powered, mid-size ID Buzz Cargo in 2022.
By contrast, PSA Group is set to launch electric versions of its compact vans. Identical under the skin, these will be badged as the Citroen e-Berlingo, Peugeot e-Partner and Vauxhall Combo-e.
Expected in showrooms by the fourth quarter of the year, the models feature a 136hp electric motor and a 50kWh battery, allowing a range of up to 171 miles on the WLTP cycle, says PSA.
When connected to a 100kW rapid charger, the battery can be recharged to 80% within 30 minutes or fully charged in five hours using a 32A wall box.
There will be two vehicle lengths – 4.40m and 4.75m. Both are available as panel vans, and the latter is also available as a crew van.
Maximum payload is up to 800kg. The smaller panel van can tow up to 750kg and has a load volume of 3.8m3, while the larger panel van has a load volume of 4.4m3.
An electric version of Toyota’s Proace City compact van, which shares the PSA platform, is also set to arrive before the end of the year.
Maxus launched its compact electric van, the eDeliver 3, last year and the model is now available as a refrigerated van converted by Coolvan. Coolvan worked with GAH Refrigeration to adapt its Le151C chiller unit to run off the vehicle’s 12v battery, minimising the impact on the eDeliver 3’s 150-mile range.
The refrigeration system is designed to deplete a fully charged 12v battery by a maximum of 8% during a typical working day, while an integrated on-board charger regulates recharging to maximise performance and minimise energy consumption.
Maxus Deliver3 Fridge Van February 2021
Volkswagen Caddy 5 March 2021
Citroen e-Berlingo October 2021
Peugeot e-Partner October 2021
Vauxhall Combo-e October 2021