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Vauxhall to capitalise on new van conversion rules

Date: 17 July 2013   |   Author: James Dallas

Vauxhall is aiming to take advantage of the stringent European Whole Vehicle Type Approval rules to step up its involvement in the light commercial vehicle conversion market. Steve Bryant, Vauxhall's commercial vehicle brand manager, said: "We are taking the lead on Type Approval. We have briefed body builders on the rules and we want to show converters we can work with them."

The legislation, which was phased in to cover major chassis cab conversions from April 2013, could put 25% of small vehicle body- building firms out of business, according to Ron Cocker, type approval manager at the Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association.

He said EWVTA would be a "bureaucratic nightmare" for specialist body builders that would place "a considerable burden on smaller companies".

He also claimed that the reduction in the number of converters would not reduce capacity in a sector where 20% of body builders make 80% of vehicles, but predicted that larger companies would move in to take up the slack and vehicle manufacturers would increasingly offer ready-to-run conversions.

Bryant said Vauxhall was working with recognised converters to exploit the market opportunity and cited the EWVTA rules as the catalyst for Vauxhall to ramp up conversion business as the number of market players declined.

"We want to work with the converters who embrace the Type Approval rules," he said.

Bryant said conversions account for 35% of registrations in the 3.5-4.5-tonne commercial vehicle sector with the Movano providing the base for most Vauxhall conversions - half of which are tipper, boxside or dropside bodystyles.

Vauxhall now offers a range of 56 Movano core conversions compared to just 13 of the previous-generation model.

Recognised conversions cover more specialist applications and for these vehicles the body builder matches the Vauxhall warranty.

Recognised conversions in the pipeline are a Movano 4WD, parcel delivery van and a welfare vehicle.

The brand is working with 10 converters who offer products under the new EWVTA rules. C

urrent conversions, which are approved by Vauxhall engineers at the brand's Specialist Vehicle Centre at Millbrook, include a Bott racking vehicle, Cold Consortium fridge van, Ingimex Luton box body, dropside and tipper, Maxi-Low Luton box body and TGS car transporter.