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Trends In The Commercial Van Market

With End Of Financial Year sales under way, many small business owners are considering bringing forward purchases to take advantage of instant asset write-offs. Given this increased level of activity, we thought now would be a good time to take a look at sales trends within the commercial van market.

Overall, van sales have experienced solid growth over the last four years, with year on year growth in 2016 and 2017 of 11% and 7% respectively. Following this, there was an 8% decrease heading into 2018, resulting in a reduced figure of 26,684 vans for the year (although still up by 2,284 from 2015).

Looking now at 2019, January started slowly (as usual), but sales have bounced back over February and March. While we can see a deficit of 557 compared to Q1 2018, this is probably reflective of a poor start to 2019 across the market, rather than a decline in light commercial sales.

Digging deeper, Toyota's market-leading position stands out. With nearly 10,000 van sales last year, it held a staggering 37% market share. Behind Toyota, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Renault are all well positioned in the market, although each of them were affected by 2018 sales declines. Worryingly for Hyundai, its sales total for 2018 even came up short of its total for 2015.

While Volkswagen also faced a tougher market in 2018, there are positive signs for the German company, with its 2018 figure just 293 vans short of Hyundai’s total (a huge improvement from a deficit of 1,496 in 2015). Based on this, Volkswagen is likely to continue challenging Hyundai for second position in coming years.

Further down the ranks are Ford, LDV, and Mercedes-Benz. While each of them have made notable progress since 2015, LDV stands out for its 305% sales growth in just 3 years. Early indications for 2019 are also positive, with 408 vehicles sold in the first quarter.

LDV's recent rise is the standout result in the market. Coming from just 584 sales in 2015, their figures have grown to 1,782 in 2018, with the majority of these sales attributed to the LDV G10, a cut-price people mover that is targeting large families on a budget.

Sales of the Ford Transit have also done exceptionally well, nearly doubling their numbers from 2015. Ford should be wary of both LDV and Mercedes-Benz nipping at their tail, however, the upgraded Transit Ford releasing in 2019 should ensure its sales figures continue to increase, making it a real candidate within this hotly contested market. Mercedes-Benz also continues to build out its range, targeting the higher end of the market. The Vito remains its most prominent offering, with sales increasing from 977 in 2015 to 1,320 in 2018.

With the competition in the market increasing, Toyota has responded by completely overhauling the HiAce. This new and improved model is set to be released mid- 2019, which should see sales improve after their slight blip in 2018. The upgrade comes with a number of snazzy new features (e.g. easier access, additional safety technologies, and expected five-star ANCAP safety rating), as well as a new engine (3.5l petrol or 2.8l diesel) to bump up its towing capacity.

Looking forward, this is a market that will continue to evolve. We expect an influx of electric vehicles to arrive in the near future, with Mercedes-Benz declaring that their eSprinter will launch this year, and Renault and Volkswagen also looking to bring their own electric vans to market. With rising fuel prices, and conscious businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint, expect to see manufacturers jostle for a lead position within this emerging market.

Get in touch if you'd like to find out more about the Australian commercial van market, or if you'd like more information about the Australian automotive landscape.

Topics: Automotive Research automotive trends autonomous vehicles