Demand for larger compact vans is buoyant, in sharp contrast to the dwindling minivan market.
The new LCV registration figures the Society of Motor Manfacturers and Traders (SMMT) publishes at the end of each month lay bare the stark division in sales between the smallest and largest vans in the compact van sector.
In July the largest growth in any market segment was seen in the sector for vans weighing from 2.0–2.5t, which recorded a quantum leap in registrations of 227.4% to 4,407.
By contrast, vans weighing up to and including 2.0t made up the only segment to decline, with sales falling -40.9% to 427 units. With Ford beefing up its new Transit Courier, with diesel and petrol versions set to arrive in showrooms this month, so that it is almost as big as its stablemate, the Connect, pretty much the only commercials alive and kicking in the sub-2t bracket are the Dacia Duster Commercial, the Toyota Corolla Commercial and the Suzuki Jimny – all niche models. Fiat Professional’s little Fiorino may be around for a while longer, but its days are numbered – it is destined to follow its erstwhile Stellantis platform buddies the Citroën Nemo and Peugeot Bipper through the door marked ‘Exit’.
Light vans (2.0–2.5t) pioneered the path to electrification, but the lack of electric choices has contributed to the demise of smaller models. It is arguable that fitting a battery to a sub-2t minivan would compromise payload to such an extent as to make it unviable, unless, of course, you count single-seat electric city vans, such as the Citroën Ami Cargo, with a payload of 140kg.
The Renault Kangoo, including the plug-in E-Tech derivative, continues to occupy a central position in the compact van sector; providing, as it does, the platform for both the Nissan Townstar and Mercedes Citan. Although only the former of these is currently available as a BEV, an eCitan is set to arrive in the UK before the end of the year.
Nissan has recently added a long-wheelbase option to its Townstar range. The L2 variant is available with a choice of petrol or electric power – the latter features a 122hp electric motor, and a 45kWh battery, offering a combined range of up to 171 miles between charges. With a vehicle length of 4,910mm, the L2 features a 4.3m3 load bay capacity – a 1m3 increase on the existing L1 – and features a wider side door, at 831mm, allowing a Europallet to be loaded. Payload of the L2 is up to 800kg and it has a 1,500kg towing capacity. Prices excluding VAT start at £21,625 for the petrol version, and £33,945 (also excluding the Plug-in Van Grant) for the electric.
Following the debut of the E-Transit Courier at the CV Show in April, Ford unveiled the passenger-carrying version of the van, the E-Tourneo Courier, in July. Both feature a 136hp electric motor and will go on sale late next year. UK prices and specifications are yet to be released.
Nissan Townstar L2 July 2023
Ford Transit Courier September 2023
Ford Transit E-Courier (est) September 2024
Ford E-Tourneo Courier (est) September 2024