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Van Insight: Manufacturers are feeling the pain

That the LCV market is suffering massively is hardly news. What is more interesting is who is suffering most and least as the recession bites. 

At the top of the sales chart, Ford is out on its own, as usual. Its market share dipped slightly, but recovered by the end of Q1, despite the novelty of the new Transit wearing off. 

In second place Vauxhall is benefiting from the new engines in the Vivaro, as is Nissan with its sister model (which is also benefiting from the new Navara cleaning up what is left of the pick-up market).

This makes the performance of Renault, the third member of the alliance, look even worse, with market share down. Given the poor performance of Renault cars recently, this does look like a company in trouble in the UK. 

Over at the other major van alliance, PSA-Fiat/Iveco, things are a little more stable. Peugeot and Citroën combined are more or less holding station, although Fiat and Iveco are losing ground a little.

Any decline in van penetration is particularly serious for Fiat as its boss, Sergio Marchionne, has made no secret of the fact that most of its European profits in 2006/2007 came from commercial vehicles. 

Among the smaller manufacturers, the downturn has been occasionally brutal. That is inevitable – nervous buyers seek safety, and big manufacturers are prepared to throw big discounts at maintaining share. LDV’s share has gone from 1.77% to 1.0%, which does put its plea for assistance into context. 

LDV as a supplier of western technology to GAZ in Russia made sense, at least at a conceptual level, but an independent LDV that cannot command even 2% of its home market? That is lower than Rover managed before its collapse. 

Meanwhile the contrasting figures for Mitsubishi and Land Rover are interesting. Mitsubishi clearly has issues: having successfully ridden the wave of privately run double cab pick-ups, it is inevitably losing sales as that wave crashes. At the same time, many dealers are rueing the loss of Jim Tyrrell, the man who was “Mr. Mitsubishi” for so many years. 

The rise in share at Land Rover is due to the introduction of the Ford 2.4-litre engine in the Defender which made it so much better to drive and also more reassuring to own.

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