Sector Analysis: Large vans

Date: Monday, June 6, 2016   |   Author: James Dallas

It’s as you were at the top of the heavy LCV segment, but drill down and there’s plenty of change afoot, as
James Dallas discovers

In the LCV market overall, the performance of the models bearing Ford’s blue oval badge provide a good barometer of how each sector is faring.

The large van sector is no exception. While Ford increased sales of its Transit by 2% to 26,186 in 2015, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, sales of its little brother, the medium-sized Transit Custom, which is firmly established as the UK’s most popular van, rocketed by 28%
to 42,839 units.

The full-size Transit was also outsold by the second biggest-selling mid-sized model, the Vauxhall Vivaro (27,538 units).

The Vivaro leapfrogged both the big Ford and the Mercedes Sprinter large van (23,859 units, up 4%) to become the nation’s second-top seller – a further indication that operators are turning towards medium vans if they meet their requirements. In mitigation, Ford sales director Kevin Griffin claims Transit sales were held back to a degree by a shortage in supply of front-wheel-drive models.

And beneath the top two heavy vans, the other models in the top five – the Peugeot Boxer, Volkswagen Crafter and Citroen Relay – all enjoyed healthy growth. Lower down the volume chart there was yet more diversification, with the Renault Master, Vauxhall Movano, Iveco Daily and Fiat Professional Ducato all performing strongly.

The Ducato, in fact, recorded the fastest sales growth of any van in 2015 – an increase of 73.8% to 5217 registrations propelled the model into the top 25 at number 22. Much of this growth could be attributed to the fact that these models are now settling in following their launches (or revisions), two years ago.
Looking forward, the next new product to make big waves in the large van sector is likely to be the Volkswagen Crafter.

VW is assembling the Crafter at a new, purpose-built plant in Wrzesnia, Poland, which it began constructing shortly after the announcement in 2013 that its large van partnership with Mercedes was coming to an end in 2016. Under the agreement, Mercedes has assembled the Crafter alongside the Sprinter at its German plants in Dusseldorf and Ludwigsfelde since 2006.

VW will unveil the new model at the Hanover CV show in September before it goes on sale in the final quarter of the year.

The Volkswagen-owned HGV manufacturer MAN is to enter the LCV segment with a 3.5t van, badged the MAN TGE, assembled alongside the Crafter. MAN is also due to unveil its version of the van in Hanover before it comes to market early in 2017.

A brand that has made its return to the market this year is LDV. Now owned by Chinese company SAIC Maxus, Irish distributor the Harris Group is marketing LDV in both the UK and Ireland. The manufacturer has launched its V80 van in four formats: SWB/low roof, LWB/medium roof, LWB/high roof and a chassis cab. It has GVWs of 3.2t and 3.5t with payloads ranging from 1204kg to 1419kg. The V80 is powered by a 2.5-litre 136hp diesel engine wedded to six-speed manual transmission, and prices start at £15,863, excluding VAT.

LDV went into administration in 2009 under its previous owner, Russian firm GAZ.
Ford unveiled a new factory-fitted Transit dropside at the CV Show based on the front-wheel drive 350L2 model. The only Transit dropside previously available was a retro-fit carried
out by bodybuilder VFS.

Product manager Dave Petts says the new dropside is a first step in Ford’s move to extend its range of FWD chassis cabs, which will include a version with a towing axle by the end of 2016.

Ford is to replace the Transit’s Euro5 2.2-litre engine with its new Dagenham-built Euro6 2.0-litre TDCi powertrain. Petts says the new engine improves fuel consumption by up to 13% and cuts emissions by 55%. Service intervals will increase from 30,000 to 36,000 miles.

Citroen has expanded its range of Ready to Run Relay conversions with a Plant & Go small plant carrier, a car transporter and a pair of crew vans.

Citroen claims the plant carrier, which, like the car transporter, has been converted by KFS Special Vehicles, eliminates the need to invest in a trailer by providing the capability to transport one large
or two smaller plant items.

The car transporter features a drop frame chassis and is targeted at vehicle logistics and dealer stock movement customers.

Cotrim Conversions carried out the crew van changes, which Citroen offers in L1H1 and
L3H2 configurations.

What’s coming when…

LDV V80: March 2016
Citroen Relay:  three Ready to Run conversions: May 2016
Ford Transit: new engine and dropside: July 2016
VW Crafter: Late 2016
MAN TGE: January 2017


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