The medium-sized van segment grew faster, in percentage terms, than any other part of the new vehicle market in the first half of 2016.
According to VFACTS industry data, the Vans/CC 2.5-3.5-tonne segment shot up 21.4 per cent over the same period last year, to 10,480 sales in total (giving it a little under 2 per cent of the overall new vehicle market).
The sales champion remains the Toyota HiAce, though its sales have dipped marginally. Not the most refined, modern or safest offering, the Japanese contender has nevertheless earned the trust of big fleets that like to purchase known quantities.
The HiAce (excluding passenger bus versions) has managed 3689 sales this year, which is actually down 1.7 per cent, but enough to stay ahead of its recently updated Korean arch-nemesis, the Hyundai iLoad (3101, up 32 per cent), benefitting from freer supply.
Next are a brace of Europeans fighting for the bronze, led by the Renault Trafic (965, up 108 per cent, impressive given it’s manual-only) and new-generation Volkswagen Transporter that arrived in December (946, up 31 per cent).
Next is the newly updated, and strongly campaign-priced, Mercedes-Benz Vito with 608 units, up 19 per cent, a bare whisker ahead of the European-focused and designed (Turkish-made) Ford Transit Custom (600, up 9.3 per cent, also manual-only).
A pair of Chinese offerings from little-known LDV are next. There’s always been a market for cheap vans — Kia Pregio anyone? — and the V80 (262, up 42 per cent) and G10 (245, almost all incremental as it’s quite new to market) prove it remains present.
Dragging behind in last is the Fiat Professional Scudo, the only contender other than the HiAce, to drop with 64 sales YTD meaning a fall of 32 per cent.
It’s interesting to note the consistent growth beyond the bookends — new or updated entrants do not take sales away, as much as they simply grow the market.
So where are these sales coming from? For one, sales in the much lower-volume smaller-van segment (led by the Volkswagen Caddy and Renault Kangoo) are down 20 per cent, so it stands to reason some buyers have opted for a bigger option.
At the same time, bigger vans (classified as LD 3501-8000kg GVM) such as the Ford Transit Heavy (down 12 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (down 21 per cent) have shed sales, some probably downward into the smaller, growth segment.
It’s also worth noting that business fleet sales are doing most of the heavy lifting this year. The overall market is on all-time record pace, but private-buyer numbers are in fact down. Business light commercial sales are up 28 per cent, and many van buyers are fleet-based.