Meanwhile, as the final sales figures filtered in from last year, it became apparent that 2002 was another successful year for LCV registrations. December saw a 7.4% leap in sales, making the full year rise some 2.8%.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: 'This is the third biggest annual total ever, behind the all-time records in 1989 and 1998. Some economic uncertainties lie ahead, but this was an excellent reflection of a good year for the commercial vehicle market. Demand for heavy vans has been the basis for the market's development, with continuing strong demand for car-type pick-ups. Truck demand weakened in 2002, but it too has recently stabilised.'
Big winners in the sub 1,800kg sector last year were Vauxhall (up 4,121), Citroen (up 534) and Peugeot (up 538) while Ford plummeted by 8,464 as it waited for the new Transit Connect to come on stream, replacing both Escort van and Courier. In the panel van sector, Vauxhall again raced ahead (sales up 3,683), while other winners included Ford (up 2,252), Mitsubishi (up 4,305), Nissan (up 1,037) and Renault (up 3,670).
Losers included LDV (down 2,231) and Fiat (down 871).