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How the major players deliver the goods

Ford still dominates the 1801-3500kg sector with its Transit van, though sector sales are down. It sold 14,140 models in the first quarter (2001: 14,734), compared with Mercedes-Benz in second place on 4787 registrations. Ford also leads the sub-1800kg sector, though its year-to-date sales, at 5631, only just nudging out Vauxhall, on 5562, and Citroen, on 4289.

Vauxhall has enjoyed a storming start to 2002, with registrations in the first quarter up 13 per cent to 7589 units and market share rising from 10.4 to 11.3 per cent. The company attributes its UK market success to new product launches, including Combo and Vivaro, giving it a presence in each market segment and the renewed focus by the two-tier franchise network.

Renault, which launched the Trafic last year, has invested significantly in its light commercial retail networks, especially in terms of aftersales service. Retailers are now open longer, have fully equipped workshops and carry increased stocks of replacement parts. Renault's 57 van specialists also supply customers with courtesy vans while theirs are being repaired.

Citroen, the UK's third largest light commercial vehicle supplier, has enjoyed substantial success, with sales rising 20 per cent year-on-year across its four model range - Berlingo, Despatch, Relay and C15 Champ. The company puts the growth down to a combination of product, extended warranties and its dealers, who have all bought into Citroen's LCV proposition.

Nissan's LCV sales are currently concentrated in the 1800-3500kg sector, but the company plans to launch three models over the next two years to boost its dealers' sales opportunities in other segments. The new Interstar medium van will be followed in September by a light van, the Primastar, and a car-derived light commercial, codenamed X76, in 2003.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles enjoyed its strongest ever sales year in 2001 with registrations up 8.2 per cent in 2000 to 16,440 - despite phasing out the Caddy Pick Up. The company made significant investment in its network and has extended its warranty to three years (two-year manufacturer and one-year retailer). First quarter sales of Caddy, Transporter and LT are up 7.4 per cent to 4065.

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