The top 50 business vans of 2006
21 February 2007
In terms of sales 2006 was a decent year for the light commercial market, but for Ford it was particularly good as it continued to dominate almost every segment. Paul Barker reports
Last year was a transitional one for the light commercial vehicle market, with major new models from all of the big players leading to a 4.5% fleet sales increase. In total, 224,002 registrations were recorded in the fleet LCV arena in 2006, almost 10,000 more than in 2005, with every segment recording growth.
Ford, as per usual, dominated proceedings, increasing 2005's 35.5% market share to 37.0% with 82,832 units sold. Transit alone accounted for 23.7% of all light commercial sales last year across its medium and heavy van applications. The baby Transit Connect backed up its bigger brother well, bagging third place in the sales chart and leadership of the light van segment by a clear margin, ahead of last year's segment champion the Vauxhall Combo.
Ford's fourth sector win came in the pick-up segment, which saw the most upheaval in 2006. It was the first full year for the new Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux, while the Ford Ranger was replaced mid-year. The Navara was the sector's most impressive performer, grabbing second place in fleet sales ahead of the L200.
The only sector Ford didn't lead was the 4x4 CV market, where Ford-owned Land Rover took the class honours. Though it's a tiny segment by comparison, it's one that Land Rover looks unlikely to relinquish its grip on, especially with a heavily revised Defender and all-new Discovery CV coming this year.
Vauxhall had a reasonably tough year, with the CV business aping the car operation by cutting low-profit business, hence the 11.5% fall. It still comfortably retains second place, though, with Renault, VW, Citroen and Peugeot holding station in that order to round out the top six, although VW enjoyed a massive 25.9% sales growth to take it within striking distance of Renault this year. Nissan outdid Mercedes to grab seventh spot thanks largely to the success of the new Navara, while LDV and Fiat completed the top ten, just beating Toyota, Iveco and Mitsubishi.
Apart from the Connect passing the Combo, the only major movement in the top 10 was Vauxhall's Astravan sliding downward thanks to the drop-off caused by it being in a changeover year. Ford's Ranger, also in a year of change from old model to new, broke into the top 10, just in front of Nissan's highly successful Navara.
Pick-ups pick up
The pick-up market in general showed the biggest percentage growth in 2006, with the 18,299 registrations to fleet equating to a 24.7% increase, while the other four segments also showed growth, especially the medium van market that added just under 4000 units.
This year is set to be slightly more settled than 2006 in terms of new models, although the new offerings include the Citroen Relay, Peugeot Expert and Fiat Scudo triplets, Vauxhall's new Corsavan and the new Mazda BT-50 pick-up. After the new model shake-up that was 2006, it will be interesting to see how things settle down in 2007.