- Fleet survey judges van makers over 33 categories
- Mercedes top for reliability, Fiat best overall
- But Ford and VW perform poorly
The UK Fleet Van Market Report 2018 by Sewells Research & Insight doesn’t instantly sound like the most riveting reading – but as a survey of no less than 1,088 ‘fleet decision makers’ it certainly carries the weight of a lot of real-world expertise.
Those decision makers, ‘responsible for running light commercial vehicle fleets that range from a handful of vans to several thousand’, were asked to rank 13 van manufacturers on 33 criteria, covering everything from vehicle performance to cost effectiveness and aftersales support.
So it’s a comprehensive report. And two van makers stood out above the rest in the results – one you’d certainly expect, and another you maybe would not…
Mercedes-Benz received the highest number of ‘very satisfied’ ratings in 13 of the 33 categories – including victories in the all-important reliability and build quality areas.
However, Fiat went one better with more ‘very satisfied’ ratings than other brands in 14 of the 33 categories – including cost effectiveness and the specialist support of its dealer network, two other particularly important areas for van buyers.
Ford managed to achieve the top spot in just one category. A bit of a shock for what is by far the UK’s biggest selling van – and pickup – manufacturer.
It’s even worse news for Volkswagen. Despite the premium image, VW failed to make the top three in any of the 33 categories.
2018 will be a tough market for vans
The report also comments on the general state of the van market as it heads into a new year.
The end of 2017 saw a fall in van sales, due at least in part to economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Sewells points out that in such a market, customer satisfaction becomes increasingly important as van makers find themselves fighting over fewer buyers.
Vans remain 99% diesel
Finally, the report expresses concern about the limited number of Euro 6 diesels that have so far made it onto fleets – given the imminent threat of ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) regulation, which will soon begin levying large fees against older vehicles in an effort to improve city centre air quality.
In a similar vein, the report reveals that 99% of new van sales are still diesel in the UK – despite the increasing capability of alternative fuel solutions, including all-electric vans.
While many van operators continue to express range anxiety when it comes to electric power, the report claims ‘almost one third of vans drive fewer than 50 miles per day’, a distance easily covered by modern electric solutions.