As sales po­si­tions set­tle for fi­nal run, new prod­ucts from Ford, Mercedes and LDV try to min­imise the gap to the ru­n­away Hi­ace.

New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS - Words: Mike Stock

The month in van sales – aka, mea­sur­ing how much Hi­ace is lead­ing by.

SALES OF FORD’S TRAN­SIT VAN UN­DER­LINE THE im­por­tance of hav­ing an au­to­matic gear­box op­tion on the New Zealand mar­ket. Kiwi van buy­ers, no mat­ter what ve­hi­cle they’re choos­ing, grav­i­tate to an au­to­matic rather than a man­ual gear­box. It’s an un­der­stand­able choice for driv­ers in the ma­jor cities where a man­ual gear­box can be a real pain in stop/start rush-hour traf­fic.

In New Zealand, the lack of an au­to­matic gear­box op­tion ham­pered Tran­sit sales over the years. Though an au­to­matic op­tion be­came avail­able in 2017, sup­ply re­straints didn’t see it avail­able here in num­bers un­til early this year.

In re­cent years, the multi-model Tran­sit range – in­clud­ing ver­sions of the mid-sized Cus­tom and the large Cargo vans – bat­tled sale­for-sale with Hyundai’s iload. But with the auto freely avail­able in both vari­ants around mid-2018, the Tran­sit broke well clear of the iload and set­tled into a solid sec­ond place.

To Oc­to­ber 31 this year, Ford sold 957 Tran­sits to Hyundai’s 621 iloads, with the duo tak­ing the mi­nor podium places. The Tran­sit’s 10 month to­tal com­pared with 930 sales dur­ing the whole of 2017, putting it on track for a 23 per­cent in­crease and to­tal sales around 1150 units.

So that means it’s clearly no threat to Hi­ace over the fi­nal two months, the Toyota al­ready firmly on the top step of the dais with 1716 van sales at the end of Oc­to­ber, and on track to pass 2000 – and around dou­ble the mar­ket share of its near­est com­peti­tor.

Chi­nese brand, LDV, filled fourth and fifth places, with the fron­twheel drive V80 achiev­ing 414 sales, and the smaller rear-drive G10 man­ag­ing 366 units by the end of Oc­to­ber. The elec­tric-pow­ered ver­sion of the V80, the EV80, also found 14 buy­ers in the first 10 months of 2018.

Big Euro­pean vans do rea­son­ably well in New Zealand – by con­trast their mid-sized sta­ble­mates gen­er­ally strug­gle against the Hi­ace, iload and V80.

Mercedes-benz’s big Sprinter found 285 buy­ers be­tween Jan­uary and Oc­to­ber, and fel­low Ger­man brand Volk­swa­gen re­tailed 211 of its sim­i­larly-sized all-new Crafter.

Mercedes’ im­pres­sive but pricey Vito mid-sizer man­aged only 52 sales, but VW’S mid-size van, the T6 Trans­porter, is a star in its seg­ment. VW sold 340 to Oc­to­ber 31, com­pared to the 235 sold by the end of Oc­to­ber 2017. That show­ing main­tained its sixth place on the 2018 sales lad­der, ahead of Sprinter and Crafter.

VW’S small van, the Caddy which sells in short- and long­wheel­base ver­sions, slot­ted into ninth place and eas­ily out­dis­tanced its car-based city van ri­vals, the Re­nault Kan­goo (27 sales) and Peu­geot Part­ner (21).

Com­plet­ing the top 10 was the Ital­ian Iveco Daily whose truck DNA gives it strong ap­peal in the heavy-duty large van seg­ment of the mar­ket. Iveco sold 112 in the first 10 months.

Above: Au­to­matic gear­box has helped the Tran­sit shift gears in 2018. See that clever word­play there?! Ge­nius. Left:toyota Hi­ace, num­ber one again in 2018, with two months of sales still to go.

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