Company Van Today - Issue 2 - Summer 2017

Vauxhall is now offering factory van conversions CONVERTING THE MASSES A van is a simple machine, with a cabin for a couple of passengers positioned ahead of a large box-like carrying space. To really do their job, though, most businesses need a bit more than that, which is why it is estimated that around 80-90% of vans sold in the UK undergo some form of modification, also known as a conversion, before they head out into the world of work. For many years, the van industry has been similar to that of the early days of the motor car – you buy the base, and then send it off to a separate converter (or coachbuilder) to strap on the body of your choice, be it a tipper, dropside, large Luton body or simply some racking that allows greater use of the interior space. SEEKING APPROVAL Increasingly, though, manufacturers are seeking to bring this process in house. Several brands, such as Ford and Vauxhall, have offered a limited range of official conversions for several years, but the market is changing all the time. An increasing number of brands are partnering with companies to provide approved conversions that match the manufacturers’ offering on quality and warranty. Convenience is the biggest reason for this, with Vauxhall’s CV manager, Brad Miller, saying: “Traditionally, customers would buy a van from us, then it goes somewhere else to be fitted, after which it’s given a PDI. The fact that we can do it all at the plant is a big bonus – it is ready to earn money from day one.” Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford have all recently announced expansions to their line-ups of approved converters, with these partnerships allowing a company to offer more choice than is feasible by sticking to what they produce in house. “If you have a standard Luton, dropside and tipper range you are covering 80% of the market,” explains Citroen’s head of commercial vehicles, Jeremy Smith. “If you start getting into other things you’ll suffer diminishing returns. With the converters we have got, that offers us the flexibility to offer 85 or 90% of the market.” These more bespoke offerings might not extend to the really specialist needs of Between 80 and 90% of vans in the UK go under a conversion before start ing work When is a van not a van? The majority of commercial vehicles sold undergo some sort of modification, and manufacturers are increasingly after a share of this lucrative market COMPANY VAN TODAY.CO.UK 14