Ro­bust bat­tle for van runner-up spot

New Zealand LCV - - COMMERCIAL MARKET | VAN SALES - BY MIKE STOCK

TOY­OTA’S HI­ACE MAY DOM­I­NATE THE NEW Zealand van mar­ket but the dis­pute over who will be run­nerup is far from set­tled. Till it left the mar­ket in 2015, Mit­subishi’s L300 – a typ­i­cally cabover-engine Ja­panese van like the Hi­ace – held a sec­ond place that was as se­cure as the Hi­ace’s lead.

But Mit­subishi with­drew the L300 as the dead­line for the adop­tion of com­pul­sory fit­ting of elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol (ESC) neared.

It had al­ready been taken off the Aus­tralian mar­ket be­cause it didn’t meet in­creas­ingly-strict safety stan­dards – in the last AN­CAP crash test con­ducted on it, the L300 scored just one star.

With the Mit­subishi gone, the NZ sales bat­tle has been fought out between the Euro­pean Ford Tran­sit range and the Korean Hyundai iload.

The Ford had seem­ingly set­tled into the role be­fore Hyundai re­vamped and up­graded the iload dur­ing 2016, and it took the up­per hand.

The Tran­sit range – the com­pact, six cu­bic me­tre ca­pac­ity Cus­tom and the much big­ger Cargo – has been ham­pered by not hav­ing an au­to­matic gear­box avail­able in a mar­ket where self-shift­ing trans­mis­sions are favoured.

An au­to­matic fi­nally came on stream this year, in both vari­ants, and Ford now has the line-up to give it the chance to set­tle per­ma­nently in sec­ond spot be­hind the Hi­ace.

The global de­mand for Tran­sit au­to­mat­ics has caused short­ages lo­cally and there have been problems get­ting suf­fi­cient stock, but the Ford van had a strong sales month in Au­gust.

Ford sold 143 vans dur­ing the month to slot into a solid sec­ond place; by con­trast, Hyundai re­tailed 64 iloads in Au­gust.

Sales of the iload had stepped up last year af­ter it re­ceived a re­vamp and equip­ment upgrade, and it had moved ahead of the Tran­sit. By the end of the year it was in a solid sec­ond place with 1012 reg­is­tra­tions. In the same pe­riod, Ford re­tailed 760 Tran­sits.

Year-to-date (YTD) to this Au­gust 31, the iload held on to sec­ond place, with 671 sales to Ford’s 610.

The third best-sell­ing van in Au­gust 2016 was the Fiat Pro­fes­sional Du­cato, largely on the strength of the big Ital­ian’s suc­cess as a mo­torhome plat­form.

Out of 104 to­tal reg­is­tra­tions dur­ing the month, 97 were mo­torhomes, many of them im­ported fully-built-up from Bri­tain and Europe. YTD the Du­cato sat fourth with 597 reg­is­tra­tions, 568 of them camper­vans.

An­other pop­u­lar mo­torhome chas­sis, the Mercedes-benz Sprinter was fourth in Au­gust, one place ahead of the iload.

Of the 85 Sprinter reg­is­tered, 63 were mo­torhomes; YTD it was fifth with 472 reg­is­tra­tions (286 camper­vans).

The big Merc is also pop­u­lar as a plat­form for am­bu­lances, both with St John and other providers. St John is now mov­ing away from twin-berth am­bu­lances us­ing box bodies built on a cab-chas­sis Sprinter to sin­gle-stretcher ve­hi­cles built us­ing the Sprinter van. Hamilton com­pany, Ac­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ing, builds both vari­ants for St John.

LDV vans built by Chi­nese giant SAIC (Shang­hai Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­try Cor­po­ra­tion) filled sixth and sev­enth places in Au­gust.

The older of the brand’s two of­fer­ings, the front-wheel drive V80 led its smaller rear-drive si­b­ling, the G10.

The V80, de­vel­oped orig­i­nally by the Bri­tish van spe­cial­ist LDV and the pre-gen­eral Mo­tors Dae­woo, is sold in three van ver­sions – dubbed Big, Big­ger and Big­gest – and as a mini­van and cabchas­sis.

En­gines have been ex­clu­sively 2.5-litre diesels de­signed by Ital­ian out­fit Vm-mo­tori and built in China, though they’re soon to be joined by an all-elec­tric ver­sion, the EV80.

Load­spaces in the V80s range from six cu­bic me­tres to more than 10, and the vans are of­fered with six-speed man­ual or sixspeed au­to­mated man­ual (AMT) gear­boxes.

The newly-in­tro­duced six-speed man­ual Euro 5-en­gined V80 is one of the best-driv­ing vans we have tested, with flat, lean-free cor­ner­ing, and out­stand­ing sta­bil­ity in cross­winds.

Lo­cal agent, Taupo-based Great Lake Mo­tor Dis­trib­u­tors, sold fifty-six V80s in Au­gust, and the model line was also in sixth place YTD with 449 sales.

The smaller G10 – cargo ca­pac­ity 5.2 cu­bic me­tres – found 39 buy­ers in Au­gust, with 14 opt­ing for the petrol-en­gined ver­sions.

LDV New Zealand sells the sleekly-styled G10 in diesel and petrol ver­sions, with six-speed au­tos avail­able with both en­gines and six-speed diesel and five-speed petrol man­ual ver­sions.

The petrol en­gines are said to be very sim­i­lar to Mit­subishi units and are avail­able in 2.4-litre nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated (five-speed man­ual) and 2.0-litre tur­bocharged (six-speed auto) ver­sions.

The G10 was de­signed orig­i­nally as a minibus, and fea­tures a lower more car-like driv­ing po­si­tion than most vans with­out sac­ri­fic­ing vis­i­bil­ity.

YTD the Chi­nese-de­signed and de­vel­oped G10 sat in sev­enth place with 312 sales, with 161 of that to­tal petrol-pow­ered.

Iveco’s Daily was eighth in Au­gust with 21 sales. The Ital­ian truck-maker’s big van is avail­able in rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive and in cab-chas­sis and van ver­sions. Van load­spaces range up to a mas­sive 20 cu­bic me­tres in a long-wheel­base dual rear­wheel ver­sion.

Dai­lys have truck DNA and come with man­ual or fully-au­to­matic gear­boxes, the lat­ter one of the sweet­est-shift­ing in any van or car sold here. YTD, the Daily’s 97 sales gave it tenth place on the sales lad­der.

Ninth spot in Au­gust was taken by Volk­swa­gen’s ac­com­plished mid-sized T6 Trans­porter, the sixth gen­er­a­tion of a van­line that stretches back to the iconic rear-en­gined Kombi of the late 1940s.

Volk­swa­gen NZ has ex­panded the model range in 2017 with a base model Runner ver­sion with a five-speed man­ual gear­box ver­sion.

The Runner lists at $39,990 and has a 75kw/250nm four­cylin­der tur­bod­iesel rather than the 103kw/340nm unit that pow­ers the main­stream TDI mod­els (there’s also an optional 132kw/400nm mo­tor).

De­spite the less pow­er­ful mo­tor, the T6 Runner is a very ca­pa­ble van and the gear­box/clutch match-up is user-friendly even in stop/ start city op­er­a­tion.

VW sold 19 T6s dur­ing Au­gust, and its 224 reg­is­tra­tions gave it eighth place year-to-date.

There was a dead-heat for tenth place in Au­gust, between the VW Crafter and Re­nault Master big vans, which each racked up 16 sales. Year-to-date the VW was in 12th place with 60 sales to the Re­nault’s 52.

An all-new Crafter has joined VW’S lo­cal line-up. Built in Poland, the front-wheel driver is all-volk­swa­gen; the pre­vi­ous model shared its struc­ture and body­work with the Mercedes Sprinter and was built in the same fac­tory.

An­other Volk­swa­gen, the Caddy city van was 12th in Au­gust with 13 reg­is­tra­tions. VW sells only petrol-pow­ered Cad­dys lo­cally, not­ing that there’s lit­tle fuel econ­omy dif­fer­ence between the gaso­line and diesel vari­ants.

Go­ing petrol avoids buy­ers hav­ing to worry about the Road User Charges (RUCS) that diesels at­tract, which VW sees as an at­trac­tive fac­tor for op­er­a­tors that may run only one or two Cad­dys in their fleet.

The front-drive van is based on the Golf hatch­back car plat­form and is mar­keted in stan­dard- and long-wheel­base ver­sions (sold as the Caddy Maxi) and on most mod­els with a choice of six-speed man­ual of seven-speed au­to­matic gear­boxes.

Most mod­els have a 1.4-litre tur­bo­mo­tor, but the range opens with the five-speed man­ual Runner with a 1.2-litre tur­bocharged engine. YTD to Au­gust 31, Volk­swa­gen had sold 108 petrol Cad­dys here, to sit in ninth place.

Thir­teenth place in Au­gust was taken by the mid-sized Mercedes­benz Vito. It’s a small seller – the Au­gust to­tal was four – but it’s highly-ac­com­plished and is sold in tra­di­tional van and dou­ble cab ver­sions.

The lat­ter has been pro­moted as an al­ter­na­tive to a ute, with seat­ing for five – and ex­cep­tional legroom in the rear seats. The dou­ble cab Vito has a use­ful load­space that is longer than that found in most utes, has much greater height and of­fers bet­ter se­cu­rity than a ute.

YTD to Au­gust 31, Mercedes had sold 68 Vi­tos to take 11th place on the sales lad­der.

The only other vans to reg­is­ter on the Au­gust chart were the Re­nault Trafic mid-sized van and the Re­nault Kan­goo city van, with three reg­is­tra­tions apiece, and tak­ing 14th-equal place.

Year-to-date, they were also equal, their 15 reg­is­tra­tions giv­ing them a share of 16th place.

Ford’s Tran­sit had a strong sales month in Au­gust. New au­to­matic gear­box ver­sions like this one pho­tographed at Fiel­d­ays are help­ing boost sales.

First row: Hyundai iload has al­ter­nated between sec­ond and third in sales race. This lo­cally-done re­frig­er­ated con­ver­sion was shown by Waikato dealer Ing­ham at THE Expo.

Sec­ond row: Mercedes-benz reg­is­tered 85 Sprint­ers in Au­gust. Spe­cial body pic­tured is typ­i­cal of the units Hamilton’s Ac­tion Man­u­fac­tur­ing builds on Mercedes chas­sis.

Third row: Ital­ian truck maker Iveco’s Daily van range is mak­ing good progress in NZ this year.

Forth row: LDV sells the G10 in diesel and petrol ver­sions.

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