April 2022 van sales revealed: who were the winners and losers?
Supply shortages caused another month of disappointing sales, but more than 20,000 new vans and pick-up trucks still left showrooms. Which were the most popular?...
Buyers considering van fleet renewals have been encouraged to place orders before interest rates go up again.
The recommendation made by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) came shortly before the Bank of England announced that it would raise its benchmark interest rate to its highest level since 2009.
The Bank of England’s 2022 forecasts suggest that inflation will peak at more than 10% in 2022, meaning interest rates could rise further – making financing or leasing a van significantly more expensive.
The SMMT issued that statement in spite of the semiconductor chip shortage, which limited April’s sales of light commercial vehicles (LCVs), including vans and pick-up trucks, to 21,597 – 29.1% less than in the same month in 2021. Problems with parts supply chains have limited the production capacity of manufacturers and extended wait times for buyers as a result.
It should be noted that April 2021 was a record-setting month for LCV sales thanks to post-coronavirus lockdown fleet renewals, and that success was always unlikely to happen in two consecutive years.
All classes of LCVs were hit by the sales slowdown, but large vans were the least affected. Sales of electric vans increased by 52.7% compared with April 2021, to 919. Although diesel vans continue to dominate the market – accounting for 92.9% of sales in April – their share is gradually declining, dropping 3.6% compared with April 2021.
The majority (88.7%) of LCVs that left showrooms were vans. Pick-ups and commercial SUVs accounted for the remaining 10.7% and 0.6% of sales respectively. These are broadly in line with each segment’s market share in March 2022.
So, which models were most popular in April 2022? Here are the past month’s top 10 best-selling commercial vehicles.
It’s inside where the Citroën Dispatch is distinguished from the Peugeot Expert and Vauxhall Vivaro, with which it shares its underpinnings. That's due to the technology on offer, including a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen, a reversing camera and an optional head-up display. An electric version called the Citroën e-Dispatch is also offered, with an official range of 143 miles.
April sales 639
- Car-like ride and handling
- Capable range of engines
- Parking camera and head-up display
- Small wing mirrors
- Not the best forward visibility
Think of the Vauxhall Movano as the George Clooney of vans: it’s getting on in years but still feels fresh and doesn’t disappoint in a leading role. The model has used largely the same underpinnings since 2010, but still offers a strong driving experience, decent fuel economy and an abundance of body options that will suit many buyers.
April sales 684
- Wide range of bodies and options
- Excellent interior storage
- Strong driving experience
- Disappointing automatic gearbox
- Biggest vans must be RWD
- Uninspiring visually
The Volkswagen Transporter is a favourite among private buyers and small businesses because of its high resale values – and the resultant low leasing prices – combined with modest running costs. Beyond that, it offers composed handling and brisk enough performance, even if you’re hauling the maximum payload. There’s even a sporty version (inspired by the Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch) that has more aggressive styling, a 201bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and lowered suspension.
April sales 740
- Huge choice of variants
- Modern safety aids and infotainment tech
- Punchy and frugal 2.0 TDI 150 diesel
- Basic entry-level model
- Firm ride compared with some rivals
- Top-end versions start to become very pricey
Perhaps the greatest reason to buy the Toyota Hilux is its reputation for reliability – Toyota has consistently been a top-five finisher in our annual What Car? Reliability Survey. That would be meaningless if the Hilux wasn’t a good workhorse, but its staggering off-road capabilities, punchy 2.8-litre engine and maximum payload of more than a tonne ensure you’re covered on that front.
April sales 806
- Punchy 2.8-litre engine
- Excellent reliability record and good warranty
- Impressive off road
- Sluggish acceleration with the 2.4-litre diesel
- Rivals have greater payloads
- Engines gruff when worked hard
Fitting its name, one of the key attractions of the Mercedes Sprinter is its range of punchy engines, meaning there’s a version to suit almost everyone. It also has a good variety of trims, and high-end versions are fitted with a premium-feeling 10.3in infotainment touchscreen. An electric version – the Mercedes eSprinter – is also offered, with a range of up to 96 miles between recharges.
April sales 1001
- Huge range of body styles
- High-tech but user friendly infotainment
- Improved fuel economy with front-wheel drive vans
- Not the cheapest van to buy or run
- Aggressive safety systems
The Ford Ranger is our 2022 Pick-up of the Year and is often the most popular choice in its class in any given month. That’s little surprise, because it’s both a capable load-lugger and a great family car. It rides comfortably, offers strong performance, and in Double Cab form there’s plenty of room inside for four adults. That also makes it a good option for company car buyers who can take advantage of low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates for commercial vehicles.
April sales 1088
- Rides quite well for a pick-up
- Gutsy diesel engines
- Competitively priced
- All engines are pretty noisy
- Greatly reduced payload on Raptor version
- Relatively short warranty
The Citroёn Relay is related to the Vauxhall Movano and offers similarly abundant body options and a greater payload capacity than most rivals in like-for-like specification. The Relay isn’t as refined as rivals and feels dated inside, making it a less compelling choice than the Ford Transit. The electric version – the e-Relay – recently had its official range upgraded from 139 miles to 154 miles.
April sales 1123
- High payloads
- New more powerful and economical engines
- Looking dated
- Feels inferior to competitors
- No automatic transmissions
The Vauxhall Vivaro shared the Best Medium Van for Practicality Award at the 2022 What Car? Van and Commercial Vehicle Awards, thanks to its balance of a 6.1m3 loading volume and a maximum payload of 1446kg. You also get motion-sensing doors, which are helpful when your hands are full.
April sales 1468
- Wide choice of engines
- Comfortable ride
- Huge payload capabilities
- Cramped interior
- Changes to loadspace dimensions
The Ford Transit became an icon of British roads because of its car-like handling and high load capacity, and the current model retains those qualities. It’s manoeuvrable in tight spaces, and even the entry-level 103bhp engine has enough power unless you’re planning to use the full 2200kg load capacity. Best of all, it’s highly customisable, with seven body weights, optional four-wheel drive and even a new Ford E-Transit electric version.
April sales 2987
- Economical with lower CO2 emissions than before
- New connectivity features
- Higher payloads
- No covered storage
- Base trim quite sparse
The best-selling van of 2021, the Ford Transit Custom is off to an early lead in 2022. More than 17,000 have already left showrooms, in part thanks to the fact that Ford offers a version to suit almost every driver, including a plug-in hybrid. With a maximum payload of 1459kg, the Transit Custom trounces other vans in its class in this respect, so it's a safe option for fleets that need vans suitable for many different types of work.
April sales 3357
- Improved fuel economy
- Class-leading productivity
- Great ride and handling
- Needs a better automatic gearbox
- Loadspace protection could be of a better quality
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