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HALF-YEAR LCV SALES FIGURES: Top 50 business vans

Date: 18 August 2008

The light commercial vehicle sector appears to be following the economy with early signs of a tricky future emerging in recent months. But which models have coped best over the first half of 2008? Paul Barker reports

The fleet van market followed a similar pattern to the fleet car market in the first half of this year.

As with the cars, the half-year sales show a modest growth compared to January-June 2007, but things took a downward turn in June 2008 as financial worries continued to dominate the news.

A total of 115,133 new vans were registered in the first half of the year, 2.1% up on the same period of '07. But June heralded a warning, as the 19,500 units sold represented a 2.6% fall.

As ever, Ford dominates the sales charts (see table, right), registering more than double the number of LCVs second-placed Vauxhall managed. Both recorded year-on-year sales falls, though, while third-placed VW was up 15.2%, passing Renault, as the Caddy, Transporter and Crafter all enjoyed a good six months.

Mercedes' Sprinter made massive gains, moving into the top six LCV models on the back of an incredible 76% increase in sales.

Ford's Ranger was the big loser in the pick-up segment, dropping its fleet market share from 28.8% to 14.1% year-on-year. It now sits well adrift of the Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux among the four major players that account for almost 95% of fleet pick-up registrations.

A new trio of van siblings - the Citroen Nemo, Fiat Fiorino and Peugeot Bipper - make an entrance near the bottom of the table, but expect them to rocket up when the full-year sales are announced, as they only hit the market late in the first half of this year.

The fleet LCV market's major sectors splits neatly into three, with heavy vans taking 33.4%, medium vans grabbing 29.9% and light vans accounting for another 29.0%. The big growth in the first half of the year was in heavy vans, up 15%, while medium and light vans were up 1.3% and down 3.8% respectively.

Pick-ups suffered the biggest fall, down 21.0% to 8149 units.

The second half of 2008 will be undoubtedly financially more trying than the first, so December's end-of-year statistics will say much about the state of the economy. We'll be watching with interest.