The company is pinning hopes of an upturn on its medium and heavy vans in a sector which accounts for more than 60% of overall LCV sales. While it held on to second place behind Ford last year, the Luton-based manufacturer says its share could have been eroded further had it not been for strategic re-entry into the medium and heavy van market with the Renault-based Arena and Movano. Darren Payne, Vauxhall vans brand manager, believes the market will have recovered to about 230,000 units by 2003. He said: 'At that point, with the full integration of Movano and the availability of our new Luton-built medium van, our share should have reached about 17%.'
On the 1998 market Payne said: 'Ford clearly dominated and we were second, but had it not been for our announcement to enter the heavy and medium van sectors I am in no doubt our number two position would have been seriously challenged. Both Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen came on in leaps and bounds, largely built on the Sprinter and LT platforms.'
He attributed Vauxhall's share decrease from 10.3% in 1997 to 9.3% at the end of 1998 to lack of product. The company phased out the successful Astravan in late July but didn't resume full production of the new model until October as Astra was nearing capacity at Ellesmere Port - where the Astravan is built - due to stronger than anticipated demand.