Pick-ups provide some much needed cheer
There hasn’t been much in the way of cheer in the new vehicle market this year but let’s celebrate it where there is and turn the spotlight on the van sector, and specifically the fast growing pick-up market.
From being the utility vehicle normally seen on a building site they are now marketed as `lifestyle vehicles’, much as SUVs were a decade ago. Backed by a favourable tax regime (yes, they do exist) and some serious up-speccing from their manufacturers they are now making significant headway.
So much so that even in a strong LCV market (up 10% in November and down less than 1% year to date) they now take 15% of the orders. These are figures that should please both retailers selling them as new and those handling them in the used sector because pick-ups are becoming good and profitable business. Volumes are not huge, true, but look at the bottom line.
The UK has the biggest pick-up market in Europe and you have to think that some brands are well placed to have a natural fit into it. Jeep, anyone? Fiat already has its Fullback but the cupboard is bare at its sister company which strikes me as odd, given its 4×4 pedigree. Mercedes is getting in on the action with its X-Class and at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show several manufacturers were unveiling their ideas for the sector and it is clear that hybrids will be the next step in their evolution.
Even if a franchised retailer’s manufacturer doesn’t make them it may be worthwhile putting a few on the used forecourt.
Ditto with vans.
They may be the death of the high street but internet shopping and home delivery services from grocers and what have you are driving big sales in the lighter vans. Two thirds of all LCVs sales are in the 2.5 – 3.5 tonne range and in November alone there was a 13% growth.
The good news as we come to the close of what has been a somewhat turbulent year is that market forecasters are confident this demand will continue into 2019. I’m not sure how that works out given that vans are used by businesses and businesses are less than confident of events from March 29 but that’s what people at the coalface are saying.
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