Friday 28 October 2016

Getting on with the business of making a living for thousands

Eddie Cunningham and Padraic Deane

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

Commercial vehicle sales are an indication of the wider economy.
Commercial vehicle sales are an indication of the wider economy.
The big sellers.
Vans are all about doing the business of making a living for thousands of people.

When new-vehicle sales are announced every month or so, we often hear it said that the level of Light Commercial Vehicle purchases is the best reflection of the broader economy.

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We have become so used to hearing it now we can easily lose sight of the real impact of 'reflecting renewed confidence'.

It means there is real activity and that - in a word - means jobs.

Higher van sales usually mean either the retention of existing, or the appointment of additional, employees.

And that is a critical element that can be overlooked when the glamorous new-car sales increases sweep the headlines. They tend to reflect ability to buy, which, to be fair, suggests employment stability too.

But vans are all about doing the business of making a living for thousands of people working for family, small and large enterprises.

They criss-cross the country as part of the everyday buzz of business and commerce.

Of course, in themselves, they account for an important part of the motoring business too. And it is a business where competition has become intense.

It is a sector where the differences between marques and models are closely scrutinised for the specific tasks required.

Today we publish this four-page special on commercials, though we prefer to call them vans.

We do so to show what ranges are out there - on Pages 4 and 5 - and to highlight how and why people have bought them or are thinking of purchasing - Page 6.

Admittedly, not all parts of the country have yet felt the benefit of the rising economic tide, but many areas are experiencing some uplift and that is reflected most emphatically in van sales.

They were up substantially in January and, according to latest figures, are running well ahead of last year for February too.

Many brands naturally compete on price and offer subsidised additional specification packages.

However, many now offer extensive low-interest finance offers, extended warranty packages. Some offer free-servicing periods, etc, as they spar for every sale.

It is important to note when looking at market share that sales need not necessarily reflect a wide range of business customers buying one or two vans each.

A large part of some manufacturer's sales figures can be accounted for by large fleet deals involving 50 or 100 vans for a substantial utility company or another major fleet, for example.

This can strongly influence the sales figures from time to time. That said, there is no doubt the Irish new-van market is growing fast. And so is, we can now hope with some confidence, the number of people at work or getting back into employment.

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