Vans dominate the stands at the annual Commercial Vehicle Show as the event opens its doors at the NEC, Birmingham, and the growth of online shopping is being cited as a major reason.

Ahead of the three-day show, organiser the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) has announced that there are now a record number of vans on the UK’s roads, exceeding four million.

The 4,007,331 vans recorded as operating in Britain is 4.3 per cent up on 2015, with more than 370,000 vehicles registered last year, and the SMMT reports that demand is continuing at record levels – already up 1.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2016.

In the UK market van sales are very much on the up.
In the UK market van sales are very much on the up.

The SMMT puts this sustained growth down to continuing business confidence and a surge in online shopping and the deliveries that result. This view is supported by Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association – writing in the show programme, he notes that truck manufacturers are conspicuous by their absence at the event.

Part of this is due to recently introduced Euro 6 emissions regulations, which saw truck manufacturers unveil new models ahead of the emissions compliance date leaving them with little new to exhibit at the 2016 event. But consumer shopping habits are also a major constituent factor.

“The increase in online shopping, where delivery within a 24-hour period is not always financially viable for large vehicles, has resulted in an increase in van sales,” Burnett says, adding that this is clearly reflected by the number of van manufacturers exhibiting at this year’s event.

Organisers point to a record number of launches in the light-commercial sector at the show, several of them global unveilings. A total of 13 new vans and pick-up trucks debut at the event, led by the global reveals of sister vehicles the Citroën Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace.

Also unveiled are the C-Series range from Chinese microvan manufacturer DFSK (Dongfeng Motor), the Fiat Fullback pick-up, Ford Transits with the new EcoBlue 2.0 diesel engine, the Isuzu D-Max Centurion, Iveco Daily Euro 6, Renault Master Passenger, Toyota Hilux, the Volkswagen Crafter Tipper and two new models from LDV, the G10 and electric-powered EV80.

Returnee LDV has one of the largest stands at the show.
Returnee LDV has one of the largest stands at the show.

LDV’s return to the UK market for the first time in seven years is good news for the show. Formerly Leyland Vans, the company ceased production in Birmingham in 2008 and was eventually sold to the Chinese Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corporation. With Northern Ireland-based Harris Group, LDV is now recruiting a new UK dealer network.

There are notable absentees from the NEC halls, including two of the UK’s top five volume brands, Vauxhall and Mercedes-Benz choosing not to exhibit.

According to CV Show director Rob Skelton, the number of launches demonstrates how important the event has become. “There’s a huge amount of excitement around the show this year, especially with the recent growth in van registrations,” he says.

The CV Show runs from 26th-28th April at the Birmingham NEC and is open between 8.30am and 5.30pm. The show is free to enter and visitors can register for a ticket.

Photos: Andrew Charman