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LCV recession sales carnage

Date: 20 August 2009

We're at the mid-point in 2009 and light commercial vehicle fleet sales have taken a battering as companies hold onto what they've got. But how bad is it and who is best riding the storm? Paul Barker reports

Though it'll be no surprise that it's been a tricky year for van manufacturers, the level of sales decline is shocking.

Fleet light commercial vehicle registrations in the first half of 2009 plunged 50.3% compared with January-June 2008, with just 57,171 units against 115,126 at this point a year ago.

As per usual, it's Ford that dominates the market, though its fleet share has slid back from 35.3 to 31.6% so far this year, while second-placed Vauxhall has climbed from 16.3 to 17.6%. VW remains in third spot, and it's the brand that showed the biggest increase in market share from 9.0 to 13.1%. Also, it was bettered only by Peugeot in that it lost 27.5% of sales year-on-year compared with Ford's 55.6% drop and Vauxhall's 45.5%.

As well as Mercedes, Peugeot passed Renault and Citroen to become the biggest French brand in UK fleet sales, down just 22.0% compared to the fleet market average of 50.3, while Renault dropped 60.0%.

The medium and heavy Transits ranked one and two in the model chart, making up 23% of LCVs sold so far this year between them. Vauxhall's Combo beat the Transit Connect to third place thanks to losses of only 32.8% year-on-year versus the Ford's 58.6% fall. VW's Caddy leapt up the chart from 10th into the top five.

Peugeot's new Bipper enjoyed the most success of the three newest small vans, outpointing its Citroen Nemo and Fiat Fiorino siblings to get into the top 15 in its first full year of sales.

The Toyota Hilux overtook the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200 to become the biggest selling pickup in fleet. The L200 did particularly badly, with sales of 479 representing a 76.1% fall in a sector down 51.5%. The Land Rover Defender again took the 4x4 LCV class honours. That specialist sector, though tiny, doesn't seem as badly hit as the rest of the market, with fleet sales down 25.2% at 544 units, with just under three-quarters being Defenders.