Robust battle for van runner-up spot
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.