The lines between the traditional light commercial vehicle sectors – under 1.8 tonnes, 1.8-2.8 tonnes and 2.8-3.5 tonnes – are already becoming blurred as new contenders straddle the old-style boundaries.
But now this new schism is about to reveal itself, according to disposal experts at EurotaxGlass’s.
Chief commercial vehicle editor George Alexander believes that following the launch of the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and its brother the Volkswagen Crafter – which hails from the same plant in Dusseldorf – there is likely to be a division in the heavy sector between quality German marques and other models. The Crafter is basically a Sprinter with a new front end and a set of Volkswagen engines, and Alexander believes they stand head and shoulders above the other vans in the market.
He said: ‘Van buyers now have such an impressive array to choose between that the UK market could possibly fracture into more identifiable segments where a Citroen Relay, Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter would not even be considered for the same contract, although each is capable of performing the same task.
‘Here the choice would be the Sprinter and Crafter in the top slot, followed closely by the impressive new Ford Transit that would hold the majority of the middle ground and lastly vans such as the LDV Maxus and Fiat Ducato flying the ‘value-for-money’ banner.’
Alexander pointed out that all these new segments had distinct attractions and in a cost-conscious marketplace made strong cases for themselves.
He said: ‘Perhaps residual values will be less impressive for the Relay yet the new cost of this perfectly sound panel van is far lower.
‘The wholelife story to be told of the cheap-and-cheerful end of this battleground will make for some interesting times ahead as fleets decide where to hang their hats.
‘What is for sure is that if only the most advanced engineering will do, then you must speak to the Germans.’