Hot on the heels of Mini glamming up the sector with its Clubvan Ford will launch its compact Transit Courier. James Dallas keeps pace with the new arrivals
Small vans have been edging closer to centre stage in recent years with the increasing focus on cutting both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – twin goals that are driven by both legislation and operators’ needs to make profits.
There may be no LCVs available as yet, apart from those that come with an electric plug, with CO2 emissions low enough to meet Transport for London’s Ultra Low Emissions Discount requirement of 75g/km to enter the London Congestion Charge zone free of charge, but there are plenty of models coming to market to tempt urban operators in particular to downsize, if payload requirements allow. With the explosion in digital communication, the Post Office is a good example of a major fleet operator that no longer needs such large payload and load volume capacities, according to Andy Barratt, Ford’s UK sales director.
Ford’s ongoing product onslaught will see the arrival of the compact Transit Courier early next year, following its unveiling at the 2013 Commercial Vehicle Show.
It’s launch will give the blue oval a competitor to the likes of the Peugeot Bipper, Citroen Nemo and Fiat Fiorino Cargo, which brought a new versatility and practicality to the small van sector by marrying maximised payload capacity and load space to manoeuvrability when they appeared about five years ago.
The Courier will be available with a pair of diesel powertrains – a 75hp 1.5 and a 90hp 1.6 – and the brand will also offer it with its 1.0-litre petrol Ecoboost engine.
It comes with a payload capacity of 660kg and a load volume of 2.3m3. The cabin is kitted out with overhead and under seat stowage as well as the Ford Sync communication package and a rear view reversing camera as standard.
But the imminent arrival of the Courier does not mean Ford’s long-established, market-leading car-derived Fiesta van is on its way out.
A facelift earlier this year spruced up the Fiesta van with laser-cut LED headlamps and 17-inch alloy wheels.
It also brought the debut of the Dagenham-built 75hp 1.5-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel.
The Econetic version of the 95hp, 1.6-litre Duratorq offers class-leading claimed consumption of 85.6mpg and CO2 output of 87g/km. It comes with standard Auto-Start-Stop, lowered suspension, aerodynamic rear under-tray and wheel trims and low-rolling resistance tyres.
The line-up also includes an 82hp, 1.25-litre Duratec petrol unit, which is built at Ford’s plant in Bridgend.
The Fiesta Van has a 1.0m3 cargo space and offers payloads ranging from 485kg to 508kg.
Safety features include Active City Stop to help prevent low speed collisions and Ford Mykey, which allows operators to set speed limiters and control the noise levels of in-cab audio systems.
Prices excluding VAT range from £10,980 for the Base 1.25 petrol to £13,470 for the Sport 1.6 TDCi.
Mini added swagger to the small van market in March with the introduction of its Clubvan.
Aimed at upmarket, premium customers and with a price tag to match, the Clubvan is offered in three derivatives; the entry-level Mini One has a 98hp 1.6 petrol engine while the Cooper is powered by the same unit ramped up to 122hp.
The flagship Cooper D gets a 112hp 1.6 diesel drivetrain and is expected to take 70% of sales with the Mini One Clubvan accounting for 28% and the niche Cooper just 2% of total volume, which Mini is predicting will be about 1500 units a year.
The Clubvan has a starting price of £11,175, excluding VAT, which is already more expensive than rivals such as the Fiesta van and Vauxhall Corsa Van but Mini has no intention of competing on price and encourages customers to dip into the wealth of extras that can drive this chicest of LCVs up to near the £20,000 mark. However, it should hold its value well at remarketing time.
The Clubvan is not impractical and comes with a payload of 500kg and load volume of 0.9m3, which Mini is confident will suit the needs of image-conscious operators such as caterers, photographers, small retailers and event planners for whom the Clubvan will serve as a promotional tool for their business.
Meanwhile Microvan importer DFSK UK says its 2013 range of models will be on sale from mid-August. The new line-up includes updated versions of the single cab pick-up, van and tipper as well as a new window van. All single cab models apart from the tipper will be available with a 1.0-litre as well as the 1.3-litre petrol engine and prices will start at £7495 excluding VAT. A minibus, double cab tipper and double cab pick-up with fixed sides will follow later in the year, according to DFSK. Most of the vehicles will be available in three trim levels.