Sector Analysis: Small vans

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012

Manufacturers are striving to improve efficiencies across the compact van sector, while some are leaving it altogether. James Dallas takes a look at the latest comings and goings in what is an evolving market.
Ford and Vauxhall have been engaged in a dual to achieve the lowest emissions in the small van sector.
Ford was the first to break through the 100g/km CO2 barrier when it notched up 98g/km for its Fiesta Van, but Vauxhall soon hit back by taking its Corsavan down to 95g/km.
The Blue Oval’s response was impressive. It first equalled the Corsavan and then seized back
its mantle as the segment’s green king by slashing a further 8g/km (12%) of CO2 from the Fiesta’s output to take it down to 87g/km. Its official combined fuel consumption is 85.6mpg.
Ford displayed this latest Econetic Fiesta Van, which is priced from £12,215, at the Commercial Vehicle Show in April.
Actions taken to boost the Fiesta’s efficiency include the introduction of stop/start, upgrading the 1.6-litre TDCi 95hp engine, revising the gear ratios, introducing an economy mode
and improving the efficiency of the air-conditioning, cooling fan and alternator.
Vauxhall can take consolation from the fact that its well-received Corsavan won the 2012 What Van? Small Van of the Year Award.
Fiat Professional joined the eco race with the launch of its 2012 Punto Van at the Commercial Vehicle Show. Replacing the Grande Punto, the car-derived van has a load capacity of 1.0m3 and a payload of 520kg. It is powered by the manufacturer’s 1.3-litre Multijet II diesel engine with outputs of 75, 85 and 95hp.
The latter two engines come with stop/start technology. The 85hp version is the most economical with official CO2 emissions of 90g/km and combined fuel consumption of 80.7mpg.
The new Punto Van, according to Fiat, combines the style of the Grande Punto and the Punto Evo passenger car. The interior gets new, sportier seats and the flagship SX, available with the 95hp engine, comes with a new dashboard design with soft-touch materials.
ESP is standard across the line-up, for which prices start at £10,990 (exc VAT) for the 75hp and increase in increments of £500 for the 85hp and 95hp versions.
With the success of the Bipper in the small van segment, Peugeot has decided not to build a commercial vehicle variant of its 208 passenger car to replace the 207 van, which it stopped producing in the first quarter of the year. Stocks are running low and the 207 van will disappear in the coming months. Sales of the 207 LCV peaked at 970 in 2008 but had dwindled to 250 last year.
Another small van to bow out was the Renault Kangoo Compact, which the manufacturer axed in February as part of a sweeping move to streamline its model range to improve profitability.
The Kangoo light van is now the entry point to the range.
There are newcomers to the small van sector, however. Chinese brand DFSK resurrected the microvan sector with the introduction of the Loadhopper range in October 2011, priced from a bargain-basement £6995 for the single-cab pick-up version to £9999 for the tipper. The line-up also takes in van and double-cab models.
Later this year, DFSK is to introduce the V-series, which is about 15% bigger than its sibling and will be offered in van, single and double-cab pick-up and tipper guises.


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