Hiace versus the rest in Battle of the Vans
FRANKLY, THE NEW ZEALAND VAN MARKET IS A ONE-HORSE race, with a bolt-away leader.
Despite its outmoded cab-over-engine layout and levels of refinement and ease of operation that lag behind many more modern rivals, the Toyotas Hiace is the only game in town.
The other seventeen vans that make up the current market are scrapping over the minor money.
The Hiace has been New Zealand’s top-selling van for knocking on 20 years, and over the past couple of years sales have risen steadily.
In 2014, the Toyota’s days had looked numbered. It lacked electronic stability control (ESC) which was due to become mandatory on July 1 of the following year, and pundits suggested Toyota couldn’t re-engineer the Hiace to accept it.
But the Japanese automotive giant’s engineers did and when the Hiace with electronic stability control debuted in 2015, it was back on the shopping list of safety-conscious buyers.
ESC may have helped Hiace sales to rise in 2015 and again in 2016. The 2015 rise was only 50 sales, taking the total to 2497, but last year it more than doubled that increase, selling 113 more than it did in 2015 to achieve 2600 registrations.
The trend is continuing in 2017, and the Hiace is showing no signs of relinquishing its market domination any time soon.
The real battle is for second place, and it’s being fought between the Hyundai iload – which currently holds the upper hand – and the Ford Transit range.
Hyundai freshened the iload in 2016, and by December 31 it was in second place, recording 1012 registrations.
Transit sales dropped slightly in 2016, to 760, but with the debut of automatic gearboxes in the mid-sized Custom and the big Cargo it can be expected to haul in more buyers. The battle for second place is by no means over.
The Ford fell to fifth place, behind two nameplates whose success is helped by their popularity as motorhomes.
The marginally better-selling was the Mercedes-benz Sprinter, though the big German’s 827 registrations were boosted by 485 motorhomes.
In fourth place was the equally large Fiat Professional Ducato with 822 registrations of which 761 were motorhomes, many imported fully built-up.
LDV’S V80 retained sixth place in 2016, though the van’s yearon-year sales growth was spectacular, with total registrations of 619.
The V80 sells largely on price – buyers get excellent load space for relatively few dollars – but it’s also competent, and easy to handle.
LDV’S other van, the rear-wheel drive G10 is a much more modern design. It’s a smaller van – load capacity is a little over five cubic metres, compared with the smallest V80’s six.
LDV markets four variants of the LDV – a naturally-aspirated petrol manual, a turbocharged petrol automatic and a diesel with a choice of manual or automatic six-speed gearboxes.
LDV sold 387 G10 last year, but the diesel auto didn’t arrive till February this year. In eighth place was one of the best mid-sized vans on the market, the Volkswagen Transporter. The T6’s styling
is an evolution of the T5’s, but the
the newer van picks up the VW “face” that has become familiar from the ultra-successful Golf hatchback car. VW sold 278 Transporters in New Zealand during 2016, and 270 of them were T6s.
Another ultra-capable VW, the front-wheel drive Caddy city van, was in ninth place with 151 registrations.
VW New Zealand has standardised on petrol motors for the Caddy, reasoning that there’s little fuel economy difference between the gasoline burner and the diesel.
Italian truck maker Iveco’s Daily van reflects the brand’s heavy transport heritage, with body-on-frame construction, rear-wheel drive and a robust feel.
Iveco is reaping the success of savvy marketing and advertising to sell solid numbers of trucks, and the same is happening with the Daily van and cab/chassis.
Last year it slotted into tenth place with 116 sales. Of those, 53 were chassis for motorhomes.
Renault’s big Master van had a stellar 2016, with 88 registered. That was a big rise over the 19 sales that the French truck made in 2015.
Chinese brand, Foton, registered 71 of its Hiace Zx-look alike CS2 vans in 2016. It’s powered by a 2.8-litre, Chinese-built Cummins diesel motor driving the rear wheels through a Getrag manual gearbox. It’s fractionally bigger than the Hiace ZX and offers a similarly cavernous cargo space.
Just one registration behind the Foton was Volkswagen’s third van, the Crafter which shares its chassis and bodywork with the Mercedes Sprinter but the running gear is Volkswagen’s. The model was on run-out in the closing weeks of 2016, in preparation for the arrival of an all-new, all-vw Crafter.
Seven registrations behind the Crafter, on 63, was Mercedesbenz’s accomplished mid-sizer, the Vito.
And one registration behind the mid-sized Mercedes was Renault’s city van, the Kangoo which is sold here in petrolengined and all-electric versions. Air New Zealand has bought 28 of the latter for use in its on-airport fleet.
Distribution of the other French player in the NZ commercial vehicle market, Peugeot, has just changed from Malaysia-based Sime Darby to NZ vehicle retail giant, the Armstrong Group.
Armstrong has yet to announce its plans for the Partner city van and the Expert mid-sizer. Peugeot sold 37 Experts and 15 Partners last year.
Renault’s third van, the Trafic, found 12 buyers in 2016. That total was a mix of the last of the old models in Renault NZ’S stock, and a handful of the new model which was launched during the year.
Toyota is in a race of its own on the NZ van market, outdistancing the opposition easily.
Above left: Hyundai iload is second best-selling van. Right: Italian brand Iveco is making good progress on NZ van market.