Sales of new light commercials in the 2.5t to 3.5t sector containing large vans rose 16.1% in the high-volume plate-change month of March to 35,592, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT accredited the strongest March for three years to a surge in fleet renewals as businesses upgraded to the latest models.

Having briefly taken top spot in the sales chart in February, the Ford Transit, with 4,864 registrations, returned to its more familiar position as the UK’s second best-selling LCV in March behind its little brother, the Transit Custom. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was, unusually, the only other large van to feature in the top ten with sales of 2,089.

Both models are now facing stiffer competition from a quartet of models that have just arrived in the large van segment from the Stellantis Pro One group. The Citroen Relay, Fiat Professional Ducato, Peugeot Boxer and Vauxhall Movano are available in both diesel and electric modes – the electric versions have a range of 261 miles on the WLTP cycle, according to Stellantis. The manufacturer is building the electric vans in-house – the Relay and Boxer were previously converted to electric power under the PSA banner alongside the Fiat Ducato by BD Auto as part of the Sevel Partnership.

Stellantis is also producing a large hydrogen fuel cell van that is set to come to the UK in right-hand drive mode in 2025. The group already produces the medium-sized Vauxhall Vivaro Hydrogen but believes the technology is better suited to large vans and has advantages over BEV large vans in that range is longer (500km/310 miles) and payload is not compromised by battery weight. Stellantis is targeting the van at large fleets as it acknowledges the lack of a charging infrastructure prohibits smaller players from adopting hydrogen.

Under an agreement with Stellantis, Toyota is to enter the large van market for the first time in mid-2024 with its Proace Max, which will be available in ICE and BEV variants.

The model will be available with a choice of two wheelbase lengths, three overall lengths, and two height options. 

Mercedes has released details of its new eSprinter, which will go on sale in May. It will have a WLTP combined range of up to 271 miles – more than double that of the previous version – thanks to a 113kWh battery. Vans with this battery are open for order, with prices starting at £73,260, excluding VAT and the plug-in van grant. Versions with an 81kWh battery are due to be added to the range later this year. The eSprinter is available with two electric motors, with outputs of 136hp or 204hp.

Renault’s new Master will arrive in showrooms in September. Among the powertrain options for the model will be an EV with a 143hp electric motor and an 87kWh battery, allowing a range of more than 255 miles on the WLTP cycle. Renault says the Master E-Tech will have a 1,625kg payload capacity, and 2.5t towing capability. Also available will be 105hp, 130hp, 150hp, and 170hp diesel engines. The new Master will be available with a choice of 20 different body configurations, with load volumes ranging from 11.0m3 to 22.0m3.

In fleet news supermarket chain Tesco has taken on the first of an order of 151 electric Iveco eDaily vans. The van features a refrigerated Solomon Commercials body, able to use 15kW of e-PTO onboard power to cool perishable goods while on deliveries. A second 12V e-PTO provides low-voltage power for additional cooling from a GAH Transport Refrigeration fridge. Meanwhile, service company Nurture Group has added ten electric Ford E-Transit vans to its fleet.


Citroen Relay March 2024

Fiat Ducato March 2024

Peugeot Boxer March 2024

Vauxhall Movano March 2024

Mercedes eSprinter May 2024

Toyota Proace Max (est) June 2024

Renault Master September 2024