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May 2022 van sales revealed: who were the winners and losers?

Limited supply dampened sales for a fifth consecutive month, but 22,000 vans and pick-up trucks still left showrooms. Which were the most popular?...


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Charlie Martin

Mercedes Sprinter 2021 in front of building

The market share of electric vans doubled from 2.0% in May 2021 to 4.0% in May 2022, as sales increased from 593 to 869.

This was despite the fact that in May, overall van sales declined for a fifth consecutive month; a total of 22,000 light commercial vehicles (LCVs), including vans and pick-ups, left showrooms. This is down 25.1% compared with the same month last year, although it must be noted that was a record-setting May for van sales.

Nonetheless, the limited supply of semiconductor chips and other crucial components meant that 21.5% fewer vans were sold compared with the pre-pandemic five-year average. Such shortages have reduced the variety of vans available and extended waiting times for buyers.

All types of LCVs were hit by the sales slowdown, but large vans were the least affected, declining by 19.4% from 19,687 in May 2021 to 15,683 in May 2022.

In contrast, commercial SUVs (such as the Land Rover Defender Hard Top) declined by 80.7%, although this is such a low-volume category that such volatility is common.

The majority (87.8%) of LCVs that left showrooms were vans, while pick-ups and commercial SUVs accounted for the remaining 11.9% and 0.3% respectively.

So, which models were most popular in May 2022? Here are the past month’s top 10 best-selling commercial vehicles.

10

Citroën Dispatch

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.

May sales 618

Pros

  • Car-like ride and handling
  • Capable range of engines
  • Parking camera and head-up display

Cons

  • Small wing mirrors
  • Not the best forward visibility
9

Citroёn Relay

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, though, 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.

May sales 632

Pros

  • High payloads
  • New more powerful and economical engines

Cons

  • Looking dated
  • Feels inferior to competitors
  • No automatic transmissions
8

Ford Transit Connect

Straddling the line between a van and a car is the Ford Transit Connect, which won the award for the Best Small Van to Drive in our 2022 Van and Commercial Vehicle Awards. Based on similar underpinnings to those of the Ford Focus family car, it offers a range of peppy petrol and diesel engines, good handling and one of the most comfortable rides in the class. You also get a spacious interior and up to 967kg of payload capacity – more than many rivals can manage.

May sales 719

Pros

  • Great connected features
  • High weight carrying abilities
  • Excellent seating and interior

Cons

  • Steering controls require familiarisation
  • Sync 3 system prone to errors
7

Volkswagen Transporter

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.

May sales 765

Pros

  • Huge choice of variants
  • Modern safety aids and infotainment tech
  • Punchy and frugal 2.0 TDI 150 diesel

Cons

  • Basic entry-level model
  • Firm ride compared with some rivals
  • Top-end versions start to become very pricey
6

Toyota Hilux

Perhaps the greatest reason to buy the Toyota Hilux is its reputation for reliability; Toyota has consistently been a top five finisher in the 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.

May sales 907

Pros

  • Punchy 2.8-litre engine
  • Excellent reliability record and good warranty
  • Impressive off road

Cons

  • Sluggish acceleration with the 2.4-litre diesel
  • Rivals have greater payloads
  • Engines gruff when worked hard
5

Ford Ranger

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 and offers strong performance, plus the Double Cab version offers 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. 

May sales 1115

Pros

  • Rides quite well for a pick-up
  • Gutsy diesel engines
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • All engines are pretty noisy
  • Greatly reduced payload on Raptor version
  • Relatively short warranty
4

Vauxhall Vivaro

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.

May sales 1211

Pros

  • Wide choice of engines
  • Comfortable ride
  • Huge payload capabilities

Cons

  • Cramped interior
  • Changes to loadspace dimensions
3

Mercedes Sprinter

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. The electric version – the Mercedes eSprinter – promises a range of up to 96 miles.

May sales 1256

Pros

  • Huge range of body styles
  • High-tech but user friendly infotainment
  • Improved fuel economy with front-wheel drive vans

Cons

  • Not the cheapest van to buy or run
  • Aggressive safety systems
2

Ford Transit

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.

May sales 2851

Pros

  • Economical with lower CO2 emissions than before
  • New connectivity features
  • Higher payloads

Cons

  • No covered storage
  • Base trim quite sparse
1

Ford Transit Custom

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.

May sales 3244

Pros

  • Improved fuel economy
  • Class-leading productivity
  • Great ride and handling

Cons

  • Needs a better automatic gearbox
  • Loadspace protection could be of a better quality