Page 41 - Australasian Paint & Panel Magazine Sep-Oct 2020
P. 41

    There’s no doubt that giant global car-makers are going to invest more in vans because, even in the midst of one
of the biggest economic slumps the world has ever seen, sales for the Ford Transit are actually up this year, according to Ford Australia spokesman Damion Smy.
“In 2020, we’ve seen Transit Custom and Transit sales volume marginally ahead of where it was at the end of August 2019, in what is a very tough, unpredictable cli- mate, and we put that down to the increase in online commerce and specific scenarios that this year has brought,” Smy explained.
“In terms of Australians buying Transit Custom and Transit, we’ve found that fea- tures that appeal to larger organisations, such as the standard AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) on every model across the line-up, and car-like comfort and tech - such as Ford- Pass Connect, Trailer Sway Control and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto - also increase appeal to small business and private buyers, too.”
Ford says that’s been particularly appar- ent with the Transit Custom DCiV (Double- cab in Van), which it introduced in 2019, offering the flexibility of removable sec- ond-row seating as well as a more distinc- tive exterior, in the case of the Sport mod- el. Yes, a “Sport” Transit van. White Van Man’s dream come true.
“This has made Transit more versatile, with its load-carrying capabilities extend- ed for family duties and other roles, too,” Smy added.
Clearly, there’s far more scope to the van market than just delivery drivers in a mad hurry, as Blake Vincent, Communications Manager for Mercedes-Benz Vans - Austral- ia and New Zealand, is keen to point out.
“We’ve got a very diverse range, from the Sprinter - which is a large, commercial van - to the Vito, which is a mid-sized ver- sion, and then you’ve also got private-use vans, like the V-Class, which is a luxury people mover for people with large fami- lies,” Vincent explains.
While 60 to 70 per cent of Benz’s van business is fleet sales - and includes entities as large as Australia Post - there are plenty of small-business owners of all shapes and sizes who need vans as well.
“These vans can be heavily customised, so people can adapt the rear cargo area to suit their business operations and you see everything from coffee vans, to food trucks, tradesmen, food-delivery, service vehicles,” Vincent said.
a huge market for vans, and I don’t think
it’s something a lot of people in our industry have thought about.”
“And in addition to that, on Sprinter we also sell a lot of them to motor-home manufacturers, people like Jayco, that’s a growing business as well.”
While Mercedes-Benz has facelift ver- sions of its Vito and Marco Polo (a luxuri- ous camper van) coming next year, the folks over at Volkswagen – which brought us one of our most beloved designs, the Kombi – are particularly bullish about the future of vans.
“The Volkswagen Caddy - which was purpose-built by VW and launched in 2017 - still occupies the vast majority of
the small-van segment, and Transporter is big in mid-sized vans, too, and Crafter is growing,” explains Kurt McGuinness, a VW Australia spokesman.
“We've also launched a specialised body- builder program to offer turn-key van con- versions for commercial customers.
“Not to mention the fact that the first two allocations (30 vehicles each wave, at a cost of six figures a pop) of California Beach camper vans sold out online in roughly nine and seven hours respectively.”
That California Beach approach - cre- ating a van that’s basically a mobile holi- day home - is another real area of growth that Jason Hornby is keen to tap into.
"A lot of people are using these vans as motor homes, it’s a crazy new world with this stuff, no one’s going to go overseas for a while, so they’re happy to spend $100,000 on something like that, kit it out and then drive around Australia, we’re only going to see more of that,” he says.
More White Van Men, and Women, on the road. You have been warned.
                                                                                                                           ABOVE AND LEFT: Both VW Transporter (above) and the Mercedes Sprinter can be used to deliver parcels
or as luxury motorhomes.
A market predicted to explode while pandemic travel restrictions remain in place.

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