What’s Happening in the Van World Right Now? - June 2024 - Vanzone
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What’s Happening in the Van World Right Now? – June 2024

Tim Cattlin with his monthly round up and preview

Every month, Van Expert Tim Cattlin takes a look at what’s been happening in the van industry – be it new products, industry news, legislation changes – even the weird and wonderful. It’s all here…

It’s Election Time…

By the time you read this, July 4th may well have been and gone, and we’ll now have a new government in power. Now, I’m not a betting man but I don’t think I need to consult Mystic Meg to predict a Labour victory (although, you never know!). But, what will this mean for the van industry, particularly regarding electric vehicles? I’ve gone through the Labour manifesto and was surprised to see very little mention of the subject with the exception of setting new binding targets for EV chargepoint rollout. So, that leaves us to conjecture. You might recall that the previous government moved the deadline for a ban on ICE (fossil-fuelled) vehicles back to 2035 from the original 2030. Could we see this reversed? There are strong suggestions that this may happen (although only cars have been mentioned so far) but I doubt that it will have a huge effect on manufacturers who were already committed to the earlier date, and who are unlikely to have reversed any product strategy decisions that had already been put into place.

There’s no mention of any alteration to the ZEV Mandate (where manufacturers have to register an increasing proportion of electric cars and vans to avoid hefty fines) and given that suggested 2030 reinstatement, I doubt very much if there would be any point in softening those targets. Maybe they will become stricter? I would hope that further incentives will be put in place to encourage van operators to move over to electric vehicles – increased grants, or perhaps even a scrappage scheme. Time will tell, but manufacturers can only do so much on their own.

A word of warning to the used van buyer

OK, here at Vanzone we lease new vans so we don’t generally talk about second-hand vehicles. Everyone knows that there are risks to buying used, but, here’s something that has recently come to light that few will be aware of. Back in the days of the pandemic, there was a perfect storm where some components, particularly silicon chips, or semiconductors became almost impossible to source. Manufacturers faced a stark choice. Stop production, or make temporary changes to specification. Many did the latter so, vans were supplied missing certain bits of tech that the customer was expecting. Multimedia screens, heated seats, electric door mirrors and navigation were all omitted at various stages. No doubt the original customer was informed but now these vehicles are making their way onto the used forecourts and, to be fair to the trader they may be as unaware as anyone that the particular van should have had an 8” touchscreen rather than the small display for the DAB radio. The key is not to assume anything and double check before signing an order form. Or, better still, come to Vanzone and get a nice, shiny new one!

Nissan Townstar Crew Van

Nissan is making a big effort with its van offerings, and the Townstar van has just had a Crewvan option added to the range. The second row of seats has a bulkhead behind it to protect the passengers, but, the seats can fold allowing for a huge 3.1 cubic metres of loadspace to be realised. The Crewvan is based on the longer, L2 version of the van and as with the standard vehicle there’s a choice of a 130hp petrol engine, or a fully electric drivetrain utilising a 122hp motor, which achieved a range of 162 miles on the official WLTP Combined test cycle. I’ve always thought that crewvans are the van industry’s best-kept secret. How many van users could utilise those additional seats, particularly at the weekend but without a big impact on load-carrying capability? Quite a few, I think.

Updated Renault Kangoo

Renault has announced some updates to the excellent Kangoo van. Now, the press release is a little coy about what changes have been made, the only specific thing mentioned is the fitment of a new grille and badge… Let’s not be cynical though, it looks like at first glance that the specification included in the two trim levels has been improved with, for example, the 8” touchscreen now being standardised across the range (entry level ‘Start’ previously didn’t have it). Renault has also reduced the list price of the van – this isn’t always reflected in the price the customer pays for the vehicle as deals and discounts provided can be, shall we say ‘dynamic’ in nature but, fingers crossed the reductions will filter through and make the Kangoo cheaper to buy or lease.

The AA Motoring Manifesto

I’ll be honest, this is something that went under my radar when it was launched back in April, and although it preceded the election announcement it’s clearly an attempt to lobby the political parties about issues facing the UK’s motoring public. Under five headings the manifesto asks for better support for drivers (including tax and duty freezes on fuel, help for drivers wanting to switch to zero-emission vehicles, money to be ring-fenced for pothole repairs, measures to make roads safer including graduated permissions for new drivers, and support for the industry in general.

Ford Transit Courier

I’ve just had a new Transit Courier on loan for a week – Ford’s smallest van now the Fiesta is sadly history. A full review will follow but, if you want a spoiler, I was impressed. It drove superbly, I reckon it looks great (not everyone agrees with me, mind), it’s economical and there’s an electric version to come next year. I’ve never described a van as ‘cheeky’ before but the Courier earned it.

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