Van sales climbing as economy lifts; 162-reg sales rise expected
Padraic Deane provides comprehensive detail and analysis of what is selling and what is due
New van sales are driving onwards and upwards. After the first five months of the year, sales are up 19.81pc on the corresponding five months for 2015.
That's an increase to 17,561 from 14,657.
Now, the industry is looking forward to what it hopes will be a busy 162 sales period from July 1. In July last year, there were 3,761 light commercials sold. That was up 48.3pc on July 2014. It was also, remarkably, the clear second-highest sales month, which is testament to how Irish businesses have bought in to the July-December number-plate period.
If you were to project the sales of new light commercials from 2014 and last year (2015) to this July, you could see 5,000 sales for the month. The competition is intense with offers from most brands, while the availability of finance continues to improve. Here's an outline of who and what is selling as well as what is coming down the line.
The TOP 10 sellers
Remains Number One for sales on the new van market. They also have the top two selling model lines - the Transit and Transit Connect ranges - covering the biggest two segments.
Star model: Transit Connect. Besides having all the fundamental requirements in this class, it was also designed, and delivers, as an office-on-wheels for the driver. Gross retail price from €16,400 (incl VAT).
The range: Three of the four-way Transit family including the big Transit (as well as the Transit Minibus, plus the chassis cab), and Transit Custom, as well as the Transit Connect* continue to impress in the sales chart. The last to arrive, the Courier hasn't captured the imagination of those who could do with a lighter payload etc, than the Connect model offers.
They also have an impressive lineup of car-derived models including the Kuga, Focus and Fiesta Vans.
Next new model on the way: The new Ranger 4x4 pickup is due to arrive about now. It gets a fresh look inside and out, new engines, and promises more efficiency.
Occupies a solid second position in the market.
The Caddy is Ireland's third-highest selling model with the Transporter in 11th place. Expect to see a big push with Transporter sales numbers gaining further traction in the year ahead.
The changeover to a new Crafter will continue to mean a sales slide until the new model supplies flow freely later next year.
A big plus for Volkswagen has been the Touareg which has sold well as a new-segment model offering from them.
Star model: New Transporter. It was always a favourite with owner-drivers and has more car-like comforts, style and functionality. It won the International Van of the Year 2016 award; it arrived here too late to be eligible for the Continental Irish Van of the Year award. The Transporter T6 gross retail prices start from €24,575 (incl VAT). The Transporter chassis cab form has a choice between single and double-cab.
The range: In addition to the Transporters and Caddys, the current run-out larger Crafter range completes the main line-up. Expect the facelifted Amarok later this year (see details below) to generate renewed interest.
In the car-derived sectors, the newly-added Touareg Commercial has made an impressive start while the Golf van is also enjoying a revival.
Next new models on the way: We will see a slightly face-lifted Amarok pick-up before the end of the year but the big news is that it will have a new 3-litre V6 with towing capacity up from 3,000kg to 3,500kg.
An all-new Crafter van will debut at the commercial vehicle show in Hanover in September; we should see it here early in 2017. The current model has been built for Volkswagen by Mercedes alongside their Sprinter, but the new Crafter will be built in a new VW plant in Poland. Expect the new range to occupy the 3.5 tonne category and power will come from a 2-litre engine used across the Volkswagen CV range. It will also be badged as MAN, which like Scania, is owned by Volkswagen Group.
They retain a firm hold on third place.
A major achievement for Renault is that it remains number one for van sales in Europe. In fact, it has topped the European LCV sector for an 18th consecutive year.
Back here in Ireland, its Trafic is the fourth best-selling model range, with the Master van taking sixth position.
As with their car range, new Renault vans come with a five-year warranty or 200,000km as standard.
Star model: New Trafic*. It looks well and it has a great driver friendly interior (especially with the optional 'Mobile Office' pack). It has more than a dozen storage areas as standard in the cab. It's refined and drives really well.
Full availability of the new model will drive this further in a growing market. The Trafic gross retail prices start from €22,295 (incl VAT).
The range: In addition to the new Trafic, Renault has the bigger Master range and the Kangoo and electric Kangoo ZE gives them strong options in the big and competitive combi segment. The real-life range per charge is being reported to be between 90km and 105km.
Next new models on the way: They will be adding a 4x4 pickup based on the 'Alaskan' concept which has a lot in common with the Nissan Navara including the drivetrain. The production version will be revealed this summer with sales in right-hand-drive expected to start next summer (2017).
It will be built alongside the Nissan Navara; in three years time, Mercedes will have its version built there too. Both will share some of their architecture with the NP300 Navara, although both Renault and Mercedes will engineer and design their own final versions to keep their identities.
In recent times, Toyota has relied heavily on its legendary Land Cruiser Commercial and to a much lesser extent, its Hilux pickup to deliver the sales.
Star model: Land Cruiser Commercial. It continues to be the SUV commercial icon among farming and building industry buyers as well as with small and medium businesses.
It comes in short (3dr) or long (5dr) wheelbase, with the latter carrying a reasonable €2,000 premium over the short version.
The Land Cruiser Commercial's gross retail prices are from €40,395.
The range: In addition to the Land Cruiser, Toyota has the well regarded Hilux pick-up range and the ProAce, which is a re-marketing of the current Peugeot Expert and Citroen Dispatch van in cooperation with PSA.
The Toyota van range is completed by the car-derived Auris, which is selling well and running neck and neck with the VW Golf van.
Next new models on the way: They will have an impressive new ProAce range developed in conjunction with PSA Peugeot Citroen. The new generation will have a much greater variety of body types including MPV versions.
And an all-new version of the Hilux was unveiled in March at the Geneva motor show and subsequently at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham in April. It is now on sale here.
It costs from €29,250 for the 2.4-litre Single Cab DLX 6spd manual (6MT). It is bigger with a stronger ladder frame, increased wheel articulation for off-road capability, and greater torque from the new 2.4-litre engine. Did you know that after the Corolla, the Hilux is Toyota's biggest selling vehicle range worldwide?
Like Citroen with the Berlingo, their Partner van is quite popular.
Their new Expert van debuted at the Geneva Motor Show and goes on sale after the summer. The new model will have more body types and there will be MPV versions.
Star model: Partner Van. It continues to be a solid performer, and a big seller with a loyal customer base. The Partner's gross retail price runs from €15,475 (incl VAT). A special edition new Partner Professional range has just gone on sale.
The range: In addition to the Partner, they have a run-out Expert van range, with the all-new replacement line-up due later this year, probably in September. It also has the bigger Boxer van line-up.
The marque also has 3008, 308 and 208 car-derived commercial vans.
Next new models on the way: The big news is the arrival of the all-new Expert range just after the summer. It will be provide a big step-up on the current line-up. It is jointly developed by sister manufacturer Citroen as well as with Toyota. It is being manufactured in a PSA plant in north-eastern France.
Its Berlingo is always popular. Their new Dispatch van debuted at the Geneva Motor Show and goes on sale after the summer. This new model will have more body types plus an MPV version.
Star model: Berlingo Van. It continues to be a solid performer and despite being a little dated, it is a big seller. The new Berlingo won the Continental Irish Small/ Compact Van of the Year 2016. It arrived here last summer and it is the first Citroen LCV range to be powered by Euro 6 compliant BlueHDi diesel engines.
The Berlingo's gross retail price runs from €16,215 (incl VAT), but they are promoting a special offer with a starting price (excluding VAT) of €11,110.
The range: In addition to the Berlingo, they have the run-out Dispatch, with the all-new replacement line-up due later this year, probably in September.
It also has the bigger Relay van line-up.
Next new models on the way: The all-new Dispatch range is due just after the summer.
They have maintained a strong performance this year. The biggest seller remains the Vivaro range,
Star model: The Vivaro. It is an impressive van. It looks well and it has a driver-friendly interior. The Vivaro's gross retail price runs from €21,995 (incl VAT).
The range: In addition to the Vivaro, there is the Combo and then their bigger van range, the Movano, which is selling well this year.
The Movano has recently been extended to include factory-built conversions that had previously been built by third parties. These include 'Tipper Van', 'Drop Side' and 'Box Body' versions.
There are also Astra and Corsa car-derived vans.
Sales of the NV400 vans have increased significantly with the NV200 at similar sales levels. Nissan has done well considering the wind-down of the old Primastar sales. It will be replaced by the new NV300 later this year.
Star model: The New Navara. It does what it says on the tin and it is highly efficient. It delivers great ride comfort mainly due to the five-link rear suspension, but also because it has a fully boxed ladder chassis rather than the three-sided channel-section frame found on some other pick-ups. There's also a new coil-spring axle to go with the aforementioned, with five-link location, unique in the pick-up segment. The Navara's gross retail price runs from €33,250 (incl VAT)
The range: Besides the Navara 4x4 pickup, there is the NV200 and electric eNV200, plus the bigger range of NV400s in many versions. It will also expand its LCV range with the new mid-sized NV300 (see below), which will replace the Primastar.
The Qashqai Commercial and X-Trail Commercial account for their remaining sales.
Next new models on the way: The new NV300 is a sister model of the latest Renault Trafic and Opel Vivaro.
The new Navara King Cab has less room for rear-seat passengers and has smaller, rear-hinged rear doors. It also lacks the Double Cab's multi-link rear suspension, so it will ride more like a 4x4 pick-up. The King Cab version is due around now.
The Discovery Commercial is a big favourite. It accounted for the vast majority of Land Rover's total sales of LCVs sold so far this year. The reason is the complete run-out of the Freelander, which had a commercial option and has since been replaced by the Discovery Sport, which isn't currently offered in a commercial version. It is also due to the run-out of Defender Commercials.
Star model: The Discovery Commercial has had an impressive run and its gross retail price runs from €59,960 (incl VAT).
The range: Besides the Discovery Commercial, the only other commercial offered by Land Rover is the run-out stocks of the iconic Defender.
The worry for Land Rover in Ireland is that while the last upgrade for the Discovery 4 took it more upmarket and it worked out well and buyers loved it, the word is that the new Discovery will make a further leap upmarket and this might reduce its accessibility for commercial buyers.
Next new models on the way: All eyes will be on the all-new Discovery range next year (2017). It will probably get the front-end of the latest Discovery Sport.
The new Land Rover Defender will also debut next year, but it may be more upmarket than we might have expected. For instance, it will be built on the same aluminum platform as the current Range Rover.
They complete the Top 10 after another good run of sales. The Sprinter is their most popular model range, and the premium brand association is an additional bonus for many owner/drivers and fleets.
Star model: The Vito. While all vans have made dramatic strides in the past 10 years, I believe the best I've driven in the past year is the Vito. And it was no surprise it won the 2016 Continental Irish Van of the Year.
The range: Besides the Vito, the Sprinter is an important model range. The 519/36 chassis cab is also popular with the likes of ambulance body builders.
Next new models on the way: Expect to see a new Sprinter van line-up sometime next year. It's too early to have any details yet.
The manufacturer is also well advanced with plans to enter the pick-up market. It could be revealed in pre-production or concept form at the Paris motor show this autumn.
The new pick-up is based around the new Nissan Navara's running gear as part of a technology sharing deal, but the styling will be very different. It should have a plentiful supply of safety kit, upmarket features and great ride comfort when it launches here in early 2018.
Other movers and shakers
The only other manufacturers with models in the top 30 sales chart are Fiat with the Doblo Cargo and Ducato LDV, thanks mainly to a major fleet deal with An Post for their V80, and Mitsubishi with the Pajero Commercial.
They seem to have a lot happening this year with a new Fiorino van on sale, and retaining the 1.3-litre Multijet engine, in partnership with Peugeot and Citroen. After 20 years of Fiat, Peugeot and Citroen being in the Sevel partnership building medium-panel vans, the marriage has been dissolved.
Later this year, Fiat will replace the Sevel-built Scudo with the new Talento, which is based on the Renault Trafic, Opel Vivaro and Nissan NV300.
Finally, to add more confusion, the Fiat Fullback pick-up will arrive later this year. Other than grille, badging, alloy wheel designs and some spec and trim differences, it is identical to the new Mitsubishi L200.
Finally, while Hyundai has been making great advances in the car sales charts, it has relied on three car-derived commercials to deliver success: i30 Van, iX35 and Sante Fe Commercial.
We await news of the arrival of the new H350 van powered by a 2.5CRDi engine with a choice of 148bhp or 168bhp outputs. It is modelled on two of the major players in the market - the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
At the announcement in Hanover a couple of years ago, it was said it would be available as a minibus, chassis cab or panel van, and would be built in monocoque form using high strength steel.
*Padraic Deane is Managing Editor at Automotive