This is the sector that’s just entering a period of new and refreshed product hitting the market. Paul Barker takes a look at what the key players are up to
The medium van segment is an interesting place at present, with the established players set for a renewed attack by those brands with less pedigree for success in the sector.
New models from Citroen, Peugeot, Fiat Professional, Toyota and Nissan all arrive on UK roads before the end of this year, and all replace models that haven’t in recent years got close to challenging the established top five of – in 2015 registration figure order – Ford Transit Custom, Vauxhall Vivaro, VW Transporter, Renault Trafic and Mercedes-Benz Vito.
Of the outgoing Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert, Fiat Scudo, Toyota Proace and Nissan Primastar, which admittedly disappeared from sale during 2015, only the Peugeot made it into the top 25 biggest–selling light commercials, registering 4885 vehicles versus the table-topping Transit Custom’s 42,839.
But all of these brands have ambitious plans to upset the status quo, and many are related underneath, with the new Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace all sharing the same underpinnings, while the Fiat Talento – which replaces the Scudo – and Nissan NV300 (replacing the Primastar) are both using the Renault Trafic as a base vehicle.
Sister brands Peugeot and Citroen are looking to double their combined market share with their new medium vans to something more akin with what the rest of the range achieves. The new LCVs tout a range of technology firsts for the light commercial vehicle market, including electric side doors that open with a swing of a foot below the sill and a head-up display of current speed, speed limit and navigation instructions.
The Dispatch and Expert come in an identical range of 115hp 1.6 and 120hp, 150hp and 180hp 2.0 diesels, with the 1.6-litre diesel recording an official best in class fuel economy figure of 55.3mpg.
The bodystyles encompass three vehicle lengths of compact, medium and long, with the compact being a significantly smaller vehicle that straddles the medium and light van sectors.
Following close behind this pair is partner firm Toyota, which has been involved in the development of the new van, known as Proace by the Japanese brand. Along with the new Hilux that recently hit the market, the Proace is part of a renewed focus on the LCV sector that involves significant investment at dealer level by the Japanese brand.
The Talento is a new name to the industry, replacing the Scudo branding as Fiat Professional seeks to step up its LCV action. The Renault Trafic-based van arrives alongside a new pick-up called Fullback and a refreshed Fiorino small van. four engine options provide power for the Talento, and Fiat claims the increased range of body choices – taking load volume up to 8.6m3 rather than the Scudo’s 6.0m3 maximum – will help it into the 30% of the segment it didn’t previously compete in. consequently, payload maximum for the Talento rises by 37kg to 1249.
Being based on the double What Van? Award-winning Trafic means the source vehicle’s innovative load-through hatch – branded CargoPlus by the Italian brand – is included, as is the wide-view mirror on the sun visor that helps the driver see in the vehicle’s blind spot.
Also based on the Renault Trafic due to Nissan being a sister brand of the French firm is the new NV300, a long-overdue replacement for the Primastar. Due to be revealed later this month at the Hanover commercial vhcile show, the NV300 will slot into the gap, as its name suggests, between the NV200 and NV400 models for another brand seeking to make a big step up in its LCV sales results.
The top dogs in the medium van segment aren’t just sitting around and letting the new upstarts make inroads into their sales though. Ford, for example has a new 2.0-litre Euro6 emissions standard diesel engine slotted into the Transit and Transit Custom models, with power outputs of 105, 130 and 170hp. Refinement and efficiency improvement are marked, and Ford claims the real-world fuel economy benefits to users will outweigh what the figures say about the level of improvement.
Other developments also include Volkswagen readying a range-topping Transporter Sportline, complete with body adornments and a more plush interior than the regular workhorse, while the Euro6 Vauxhall Vivaro will come with a revised model line-up.
|What’s coming when…|
|Ford Transit Custom||July 2016|
|Fiat Talento||August 2016|
|Citroen Dispatch||September 2016|
|Peugeot Expert||September 2016|
|Toyota Proace||September 2016|
|Nissan NV300||Late 2016|