The vibrancy of the 2017 Commercial Vehicle Show demonstrated the continuing optimism in the industry despite the growing shadow cast by Brexit and the distraction of the forthcoming General Election.
While the new van market has slowed slightly, and some sectors (medium vans and pick-ups) are performing better than others, the mood throughout the halls was upbeat. On day one, organisers forecast 23,000 visitors would attend the event, which was 10% bigger than last year, with 460 companies exhibiting.
A strong theme on the stands at the NEC was technology, with a wealth of safety apps and telematic wizardry on show – all designed to make life more compliant, economical and profitable for operators.
Conversions were also prominently on display, particularly on the stands of Volkswagen, with its new Crafter to be seen as a tipper, and Toyota, which demonstrated what can be done with its Proace medium van and Hilux pick-up.
Finally, the SMMT staunchly defended the central position diesel still commands in the industry in the face of growing criticism, but, inevitably, alternative fuel was a hot topic. Ford detailed its plans for a trial of plug-in hybrid Transit Customs in London, while Citroen, LDV and VW were among those showcasing electric vans.