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The top 50 business vans of 2007

Date: 21 February 2008

In terms of LCV registrations 2007 represented a period of calm after the flurry of activity in 2006. Big winners included Vauxhall, which enjoyed a record year, though it still couldn't challenge Ford. Paul Barker reports

It was a steady year for the light commercial vehicle market in 2007, unlike the previous year where wholesale changes to manufacturers' line-ups were brought on by new emissions legislation.

More than 228,000 new vans were registered to fleet customers last year, which represented a 2.0% increase on the tumultuous 2006.

As has been the norm since the beginning of time, the LCV market was dominated by Ford and in particular the Transit, which topped both the light and heavy van segments. Despite a modest drop in sales and a decent 7.2% increase by second-placed Vauxhall, which enjoyed a record year, Ford still shifts double the volume of any of its rivals -more than 80,000 units - into fleet.

As occurred in the car market a couple of years ago, VW passed Renault to grab third spot, but still with only only half of Vauxhall's total. Further down Mercedes was on the rise, as was Toyota, which jumped two places up the chart and into the top 10 at the expense of Fiat, thanks mainly to big sales increases by the Hilux pick-up.

In the top 50 models chart, the top five held firm with Ford's two sizes of Transit taking the top two positions in front of the baby Transit Connect and Vauxhall's Combo and Vivaro.

The LCV fleet market was again split neatly into three sectors, with light vans taking 31.0%, heavy vans grabbing 30.6% and medium vans accounting for a further 29.7%. Of the other sectors, pick-ups took 8.4% of the market, 0.2% up on 2006, and the remainder - just 933 registrations - was the off-road sector that plunged 46.0% last year due mainly to the drop in Defender sales. The 4x4 king rules this sector, but the changeover to an updated model hit sales.

The only change in sector leader saw Ford knocked off one perch. Though the Blue Oval brand still tops the light van sector with the Connect, and both medium and heavy van segments with variants of the Transit, Nissan's Navara beat the Ranger to lead the pick-up market. It's a well-deserved triumph for what's generally considered the best all-round product in the market, and was achieved more through maintaining sales while the Ranger slid backward, rather than any big leap on behalf of the Japanese model. Below those two, the other two major players in the this segment also enjoyed double-digit growth and were separated by just 58 units at the end of the year, the Mitsubishi L200 coming out ahead of Toyota's Hilux with 3888 registrations.

Elsewhere, other models showing hefty growth included the Vauxhall Astravan and Corsavan (up 43.9% and 30.7%), VW Caddy (up 39.2%) and Mercedes-Benz Vito (up 30.5%)

It's another fairly static year on the product front in 2008, giving LCV manufacturers the chance to establish their current model ranges, though the Citroen, Fiat and Peugeot trio of new light vans called Nemo, Fiorino and Bipper respectively will provide plenty of interest in that market.