Monday 1 May 2017

After years of big growth, van sales reflect how much we've caught up

LCVs always a good barometer of how economy is doing. Sales are steady, but not spectacular

Ford Transit - new models will feature the EcoBlue engines.
Ford Transit - new models will feature the EcoBlue engines.

Today we publish an in-depth look at commercials. Vans to you and I, but workplaces-on-wheels for tens of thousands.

Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) are widely regarded as one of the better reflections of economic activity.

The fact is they are; and are used by many to gauge business confidence at grassroot level.

New-car sales tend to get all the headlines but vans are the real pulse of the economy. People buy them when they are confident of getting a return on their money.

With 20 brands and more than 65 models, the competition for buyers of the 28,000 or so sold in a year here is fierce.

That is especially true now since the slack from the recession's hold-over of delayed purchases seems to have been taken up, and the growth of the last three years is stalling a bit.

Other factors are contributing - the Brexit softening of sterling has made used and nearly-new imports a viable option again. And there is the uncertainty because of Brexit and of possible US-forced changes in the global trade system.

It may seem a stretch that van buyers might have Theresa May and Donald Trump on their minds as they kick a new Ford Transit's tyres.

But it's all about the economy, and the economy is all about confidence. And confidence hates the unknown.

Nevertheless, some 8,000 or so light commercial vehicles were newly registered up to the last week of February. It's a substantial number, and in value both to business and the state in relevant taxes, a fair chunk of change.

That fierce competition, though means the bigger brands get the lion's share.

But it is an expensive business to run, so co-operative links even between the top brands mean significant product similarities.

For 2017 so far, the brands' breakdown has a familiar look.

The top three - Ford, Volkswagen and Renault - take more than half the market between them.

The next three - Toyota, Peugeot and Citroen - take another fifth.

That leaves a lot of companies fighting for a share of the remaining quarter of the business. It's a jungle out there.

Indo Motoring

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