An analysis of larger van sales in the UK shows that the old dominance of one or two marques within courier work is declining.

A large van sales survey continues to show that buying preferences within the courier work segment are changing. The old ‘top marques’ can no longer count on having the market to themselves.

The Survey

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ survey has shown that things are changing at an ever faster pace. No longer can Ford and Vauxhall continue to assume that they have things all to themselves in terms of first preferences.

True, the traditional and omnipresent Transit plus the new Vauxhall Vivaro continue to occupy top places, but the position is more complicated than it at first appears. In fact, staying with Ford indicates the trends nicely.

In 2015, sales of that iconic Transit increased by only a modest (and ‘worrying’) 2%, whereas the junior version, the Transit Custom, shot up by 28%. Looking across the various manufacturers, this trend is pretty much universal. The rocketing sales level of Vauxhall’s medium-sized Vivaro is another potential indicator of what’s to come. Many of the big vans are looking a little nervously over their shoulder at their smaller cousins.

However, there’s still plenty of competition amongst the heavyweights.

The Big Names

Most of the major marques are not only well represented in this sector but may be eating into the chunk of the pie traditionally reserved for Ford.

The Peugeot Boxer, Citroen Relay and the VW Crafter all did well and arguably much better than expected in sales terms. Not quite in the same league but coming up fast are the Renault Master, Vauxhall Movano, Iveco Daily and the FIAT Professional Ducato.

In fact, the Ducato achieved the fastest sales growth of any in the van survey, managing a staggering increase of 73.8%. That might have only taken the Ducato to number 22 in the chart due to modest total sales figures, but it might be a sign of things to come for the sector as a whole and those engaged in courier work. FIAT have done a lot over recent years to throw off that millstone legacy for ‘build quality issues’ and they’re to be applauded for that.

The diversity and competition is likely to increase further as LDV are about to re-appear now under Chinese ownership. They previously sunk without trace in 2009 under Russian control, but are now re-launching four models and all seemingly very attractively priced. Watch this space for something of a price war, as the Chinese may be far more determined to fund a bridgehead-building exercise than the previous owners were. That might be very good news for those in the courier work business.

The Future

Will the traditional ‘big vans’ so beloved in the past now fade away under a flurry of mid-sized van arrivals?

That seems unlikely. However, some pundits don’t agree and are already describing some of the bigger vans as ‘dinosaurs’ when compared to the modern and dynamic mid-range pretenders to the throne.

The issue here is that bulk carriage requirements will be continue to drive a need for larger vans. Yet for many people engaged in courier work , those new mid-range vehicles are likely to look more and more appealing.

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