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Van roundup: February 09

  • nissan-uncovers-new-small-vanNissan uncovers new small van

NISSAN has revealed first images of its new small van, the Ford Transit-rivaling NV200 model.

3 different configurations of the new model will be available – including 2 versions of a 7-seat people carrier derivative.

The new Nissan NV200 gets sliding side doors, and the van variant has 4.1m3 of loading space. As for the people-carrying model, this comes in two guises: a function Combi for loads and passengers, and a more plush passenger version.

Geneva next week will see the debut of the passenger NV200, which arrives in Europe in the autumn.

The new NV200 marks the beginning of a big expansion period for Nissan vans, says the company’s senior vice president Andy Palmer.

‘We aim to expand our business with smart new products and services that meet the needs of our customers, both in Europe and around the world.’

The NV200 has the largest and most practical cargo area in its class. The van version has a load bay that’s 2040mm long. It can swallow two standard Euro pallets, up to a payload of 771kg.

The ground floor height is also a class-lowest 520mm.

As for the passenger version, Nissan fits fold-flat rear seats, rather than pews that have to be individually removed when not in use. The middle bench folds flat against the front seats, while the rear two collapse up against the NV200’s sides.

Nissan also boasts build quality and finish is to the same standard as its passenger cars – it is actually based on the Nissan Note and Micra platform.
Engines include a 1.6 petrol, and a 1.5 dCi with 86bhp. Cost of ownership is projected to be among the lowest in the class.

  • Van market ‘recovering’ says BCA

DEMAND for LCVs is continuing to improve, says auctioneers BCA, as confidence returns to the sector.

February sales were so strong, the company has even had to introduce a new LCV sale day at its BCA Bedford site.

This comes on the back of strong January sales, too.

BCA reports that stock is in short supply, which is helping keep prices high. But vendors are remaining realistic, and are helping to foster signs of life in the market – proven by high conversion rates.

The company’s head of LCV sales, Duncan Ward, said: ‘February has delivered more of what we saw in January.

‘Following a long period in the doldrums, there is a lot more confidence in the used LCV market in 2009, and that is reflected in stronger bidding, higher conversions and improving prices.

‘Many dealers ran stocks down last year and have been busy replenishing their forecourts in 2009 in response to a spike in retail demand.

Surely this runs counter to the economic doldrums faced by the retail industry? Well, perceptions are one thing, says Ward, reality another.

‘There are increasing numbers of redundancies in manufacturing and engineering,’ he admits. But ‘many of these will be skilled tradesmen and women who will strike out on their own.

‘The first thing they will buy with their redundancy money is a van.’

In addition, he says many small businesses will have ring-fenced the troubles of 2008 and are now looking to the future.  ‘New budgets will be in place, and many businesses will replace any long-in-the-tooth vehicles with newer, more efficient models.

‘Used commercial vehicles are hardly a glamour buy, but they are a business tool.

‘If sales are strong, it suggests there are plenty of businesses out there looking to the future.’

BCA Ward’s market thoughts
•    Double-cab pick-up – coming back strongly
Values virtually flat-lined last year, with little or no interest at the top end of the market. Buyers expected huge reductions before they would show any interest. Values have recovered somewhat this year, but remain well behind where they were when the credit crunch began.

•    Car sized van – strong
There’s plenty of demand for Berlingo, Kangoo, Combo and Connect, providing the spec and condition are good. Vans with a bit of power in good colours are much sought after. There’s also lots of interest in hatchback vans such as Fiesta and Corsavan.

•    SWB panel van – remains in demand
It is a jack-of-all-trades. Condition remains very important, although a few minor dents or dings seem more acceptable this year, providing the vehicle is otherwise in clean condition. A good retail specification, including aircon and metallic, will do wonders for value.

•    3.5 tonne van – difficult
It is enduring a difficult time because there is a lot of stock about. Even late-plate, clean and reasonably valued stock is under pressure, because of over-supply and awareness that there are some spectacular new deals. Nearly-new vans will feel the price pressure first, but the effects will ripple through to other areas rapidly.

  • SMMT unveils green van buying guide

CO2 emissions from vans will finally be put under the microscope, with the launch of a new SMMT guide.

The Society has launched a van buying guide to raise awareness of CO2 levels with van drivers.

This is part of a wider initiative from the DfT, which will drill home the effect of van CO2 emissions to businesses and small fleets.

SMMT experts have launched the van buying guide to help drive down CO2 emissions from road transport

The aim is to ensure that buyers consider their usage requirements, rather than simply choosing the van with the lowest published CO2 figure. It also emphasises the clear link between emissions and fuel consumption – a big part of a vehicle’s running costs.

SMMT chief exec, Paul Everitt, said: ‘For some time now, businesses running large numbers of commercial vehicles have been accustomed to getting emission data from vehicle manufacturers when buying vans, but rarely does the individual or small fleet buyer know the importance of this to their bottom line.

‘The guide gives clear, straightforward advice to van buyers, that will save them cash and cut CO2.’

An online van database, compiled by SMMT and detailing CO2 emissions from vans by model type, is to be introduced this spring, too.

About James Baggott

James is the founder of Car Dealer Magazine and MD of parent company Blackball Media.