A number of new models are lining up to swell the sector as manufacturers look for growth at home and in emerging markets, James Dallas reports
The number of brands queuing up to enter the pick-up market bears testament to the success of the sector in the UK.
Manufacturers such as Renault, Mercedes-Benz and Fiat have debut products in the pipeline as they move to cover what they obviously consider to be a significant gap in their portfolios.
In the first four months of the year pick-up volumes increased 25% year-on-year to 14,092, according to the SMMT, making it the second fastest growing segment behind the niche 4x4 category.
In 2014 sales were up 15% to 33,823 compared to the previous year’s total, which equated to more than 10% of the market overall.
The biggest-selling pick-up was the Toyota Hilux, climbing 9.5% to 8318 units. This was followed by Mitsubishi’s L200, up 17% to 6488 but the Isuzu D-max registered the most spectacular rise with a leap of almost 40% to 5502.
Isuzu says it is now attracting interest in the D-max from larger fleets as well as from its traditional heartlands of farming, forestry and owner-drivers.
A spokesman told What van? “A couple of big fleet deals are coming up, it hasn’t been our strongest suit but we are now gaining traction. We are getting three figure fleet deals with public sector bodies. ”
Isuzu has introduced a new edition of its Blade trim pick-up and made it a permanent member of the D-max portfolio after the first run of 400 special editions sold out.
Based on the premium Utah specification the Blade is priced £25,999, excluding VAT. The same 163hp 2.5-litre twin-turbo unit that powers the rest of the range is used in the Blade.
The Ford Ranger, with a healthy volume increase of 27% to 5462, and the Nissan Navara, which remained more or less on a par with 2013 on 4533, completed the top five best-seller list.
The Navara undoubtedly suffered from being the senior member of the sector, having undergone little change since its launch in 2005.
In the near future, however, the Nissan model is set to have a major impact on the make-up of the pick-up market.
The brand is to launch a new Navara in the UK later this year based on the model introduced in Thailand in June 2014. European specifications are not yet confirmed but CO2 emissions will be lower than in the Far East versions, Nissan promises, and the 300hp V6 diesel unit in the current range will be dropped. The current 2.5 diesel could also be replaced by the 2.3-litre engine used in the Nissan NV 400 and Renault Master.
Both Renault and Mercedes are to base their first pick-ups on the new Navara as part of a five-year deal between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the prestige German manufacturer. Mercedes says its truck will go on sale before 2020 and the Renault version could break cover in 2017, although this is not yet confirmed. European production for the three models will be based at Nissan’s plant in Barcelona.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, says: “Thanks to our well-established partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, we are able to drastically reduce the time and cost to enter this key segment.”
Renault and Mercedes have their sights set on exploiting the opportunity for growth in Latin America. The same is true for Fiat Professional, which is to link up with Mitsubishi to launch a pick-up based on the same platform as the next generation L200. It is likely to emerge in 2016 with the 2.4-litre turbo-diesel drivetrain that will power the Mitsubishi model to market in the third quarter of this year. This engine features in the Triton pick-up Mitsubishi revealed in Thailand last year.
Ford’s revised Ranger will also hit showrooms later this year but we’ll have to wait for at least 12 months for more news of the next Toyota Hilux. The current version is nine years old and was last refreshed in 2011.
Second hand scene
Most pick-ups passing through the auction halls are well-specified double-cab models that return Guide prices if in good condition, according to George Alexander, chief editor, commercial vehicles, Glass’s Guide.
Single-cab workhorses are much thinner on the ground, so tidy examples attract plenty of interest, Alexander says.
For late-plate double cabs, he says automatic transmission is preferred but for older models manual gearboxes are considered the wiser choice.
Alexander says Ford Rangers are much in demand as are VW Amaroks, Toyota Hiluxs and Isuzu D-max 4x4s due to their rarity. However, the high numbers of Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara models to be seen means their RVs suffer.