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As we dive headfirst into 2024 looking to the future of the van industry, it is important to take a look back and what worked well the year before, and figure out why some vehicles performed well, and which ones underdelivered.

December saw the usual suspects topping the charts, but Ford was ahead of the rest, dominating the figures with three out of four top vehicles belonging to the American manufacturers. What is interesting however, is the Vivaro from the Stellantis group is steadily improving all the time, aiming to knock Ford out of that top spot, though there is still a little way to go.

Best Sellers December 2023 – LCV under 3.5 tonnes
Ford Transit Custom 3,298
Vauxhall Vivaro 2,237
Ford Transit 2,227
Ford Ranger 1,704
Renault Trafic 1,483
Volkswagen Transporter 1,319
Peugeot Boxer 1,185
Citroën Berlingo 1,166
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 1,084
Toyota Hilux 1,076

The biggest highlight to come out of last year is the Ford Transit Custom. The medium-sized van has consistently achieved at a higher level, raising the standards throughout the year, and quite seamlessly securing the Best Van in the LCV Under 3.5-tonnes category for the Parkers Van & Pickup Awards 2024. Its impressive performance cannot be overstated – it succeeded in doubling the number of sales when compared to the competition over the 2023 period.

This award-winning van has been a favourite of the van industry for some time thanks to many products out there like Ford Transit Leasing, PCP and finance options It’s unlikely to change anytime soon. The introduction of the E-Transit coming in the summer of 2024 boasts of a variety of improvements, including a 64kWh battery and proudly pointing out that the E-Transit will be able to tow a 2.3-tonne trailer load.

Best Sellers 2023 – LCV under 3.5 tonnes
Ford Transit Custom 40,865
Ford Transit 28,280
Vauxhall Vivaro 20,477
Ford Ranger 18,679
Volkswagen Transporter 17,487
Renault Trafic 16,041
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 15,799
Citroën Berlingo 14,065
Toyota Hilux 10,888
Ford Transit Connect 10,856

Ford Transit Custom

Ford have enjoyed the Best Seller mantle for a while and 2023 was no different, showing its superiority over other vans purely from their sales figures. It is no accident that the Custom was ahead of the game last year and with the new registration plates coming in March, it’ll probably stay where it is in the top spot. With its history and its achievements, Ford Transits are the typical first thought associated with the word ‘van’ – it is a motor king of Britain, with the history to match. Ford have even managed to keep customer satisfaction high, with their continued updates and fair prices, nothing has been compromised in the Transit Custom.

The future of the Ford Transit Custom

The future of Ford is bright – every new Ford model will now feature a standard 12-inch touchscreen display, connected navigation will offer drivers real time information to ensure you will not lose time in traffic.

This is just one example of Ford’s improvements on their technology; the new Sync 4 communication and information system works well with the 12-inch display, connected via their 5g modem, making sure the everything is as quick and effective as possible. For example, Ford’s latest delivery assist technology will be accessible on specific automatic models, presenting a notable advantage for courier businesses in streamlining repetitive tasks. This innovative technology automates the delivery process by transitioning the van into ‘park’ securing unused doors and activating the vans hazard warning lights, maximising both efficiency and time.

Ford Transit Custom comfortability

The interior for the brand-new vehicle has not been forced to compromise in any way. The flat floor has broken the mould, allowing the passenger much more leg room, but it has a secondary purpose – the floor itself is a usable area. Ford have commented on this, stating the decision was made thanks to a customer who said he liked storing his paint in the cabin, yet again demonstrating how they take suggestions from the people who use their products.

It is worth noting that the automatic may lend itself better to those who regularly carry multiple people. It has a different shape to the manual and has its gear shifter closer to the steering wheel for more room.

Ford Transit Custom storage

Speaking of making room, the storage in and around the Ford Transit Custom cabin is rather spacious. There are plenty of spots on the doors – the biggest one is in the traditional area and features a bottle holder, and two smaller ones above and below. There are also two glove boxes on the dashboard. This might not seem completely obscure, but one of these takes up the room an airbag would usually have. Ford have moved the airbag to the roof of the van and as such, the new glove compartment has a space of approximately 30cm. However, the consequence of this means there is no overhead storage – not a dealbreaker by any means, just something else to consider.

Ford E-transit

Ford are moving into the electric van sector with a dramatic entry. Ford’s first all-electric vehicle, the E-Transit features a 400-volt, 68kWh battery that offers a range of up to 208 miles in a single charge, making this van complaint with ULEZ and being prepared for the 2035 ban on petrol and diesel vehicles being sold.

The E-Transit will be available as a van, double-cab and as a single chassis, once again making customer choices the focal point. It will be interesting to see how these all perform in 2024 when paired against some of the more established electric vans who have been on the circuit long enough to figure out what works, and more importantly, what does not.

Car and light vehicle registration outlook

The latest market outlook is certainly looking promising for the electric van industry this year; BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) are showing a new strength, with 17.2% market share and a 21% rise in volume. Though this may appear to be lower than the original forecast, the 5-year extensions on the Government timeline has caused the impact, allowing people a bit more time before having to change their vehicle. Going forward, the expectation is for BEVs to grow by 35.3% and taking a market share of 22.3% – still below previous estimates but increasing from 2023 at least. 2025 will likely see another rise of 26.1%, with a volume increase of 22.6%, but ultimately, only time will tell.

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