Worries about investing in new vehicles while the economic recovery is still precarious are driving the growth in flexi-leasing that is underpinning growth in the light commercial vehicle market, according to Ford.

“The challenge for us is to have available stocks on the ground to meet opportunities that come at us quite quickly,” Ford commercial vehicle boss Steve Clary told BusinessCar. “Contract hire and larger fleet customers have more forward planning and ordering, so the shift to flexible leasing means you have to be quicker to respond to opportunities.”

Clary said the shift in how many businesses are acquiring vehicles shouldn’t have a residual value impact. “I’m not overly concerned about the impact on RVs; they still retain the vehicle for three or four years, it’s not like daily rental,” he said.

The sub-3.5 tonne van market was up 17% on 2009 over the first seven months of the year, and up 25.2% year-on-year in July. Ford is predicting that the LCV sales figures will end 2010 at least 10% up on 2009, with a further 10-15% growth coming in 2011.

“Looking to the second half of 2010, the coalition Government has driven much of the uncertainty, but I don’t share some market commentator’s pessimism about a double-dip recession,” said Clary.

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