Now in its 50th year the Transit has been market leader in the UK for the past 49 consecutive years and the latest incarnation consists of the Courier, Connect, Custom and Van models. The 50th anniversary celebrations also included the launch by Ford of their new network of Transit24 Centres, a network of commercial vehicle dealerships offering elevated levels of service.
Paving their way to the CV Show in their 50th year Ford has just recorded its highest ever monthly CV sales in March of 16,497 units, beating the previous record set in September last year of 15,503 vehicles, an increase of 43%.
According to the official sales figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in the first quarter of 2015 Ford’s total sales of commercial vehicles of 26,470 units were also up by 43 per cent compared with the same period in 2014 giving them a market share of 25.2%. In addition to the Transit family, Ford’s CV models include the Fiesta Van and Ranger Pick-Ups models and are placed in the top three of their respective sales segments.
Ford also retains its market leadership in the passenger car sector with 98,804 registrations for the first three months of this year. The Ford Fiesta retains its best-selling car status and the Ford Focus is the UK’s third best-selling car range.
Nearly 8-million Transit and Transit Custom models have been sold globally since the first one came off the production line at Langley in the UK on 9 August 1965. Parked end-to-end 50 years of Transits would circle the globe and on average customers have bought a new Transit every 180 seconds during its lifetime.
With high demand from small business operators for the compact Transit Connect and Courier models from the four model type range Ford says total production for the whole of the Transit family is expected to top 9-million units in 2015. For the first time the all-new two-tonne Transit is also now built and sold in North America extending the range to 118 global markets.
Transit production might have ceased in the UK in 2013 but diesel engines for Transit models are built at Ford’s Dagenham plant and a lesser number of petrol engines are supplied from their Bridgend engine facility in South Wales.
At the Transit’s 50th anniversary celebrations hosted by Ford at the eve of the Commercial Vehicle press dinner Terry Rayner, Director of Transit Centres announced that Ford of Britain has now opened 105 specialist Transit Centres nationwide and another 83 service- only centres.
Aware that Transit owners and operators cannot afford down-time for their vehicles the programme, called Transit24, offers an elite sales and aftersales service. The centres offer extended opening hours, easy to book while-you-wait servicing and priority treatment for urgent repairs. All Transit Centres are RAC certified and open from 07.30 to 18.30 every weekday as a minimum and also on Saturday mornings. Late night servicing on Thursdays allows customers to drop off a van by 16.00 and collect it Friday at 10.00.
Terry Rayner said, “The new centres are dedicated to selling, servicing and all aspects of owning a Ford commercial vehicle, not just Transit but Fiesta Van and Ranger pick-ups. It is no longer possible to accommodate commercial vehicles in our car showrooms or busy workshops. These new Transit24 centres are either renovated or new build premises alongside existing Ford car dealerships or in some cases totally separate. They are staffed by dedicated CV sales teams and the same applies to the service departments.
He added, “The move to create the bespoke Transit24 centres started in 2008 when we saw the designs for the new Transit models. We knew we would have a sales success on our hands and so we must separate commercial vehicles sales and service operations from our existing passenger car dealerships. With the turnaround in the UK’s economy creating huge demand for our new range of four Transit model types this move to create the new centres has been fully justified.”
In a timely announcement at the Commercial Vehicle show the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) launched a van maintenance campaign to help van operators take better care of their vehicles, and to keep their drivers and other road users safe.
The SMMT claims almost two thirds (63%) of the 10,800 vans stopped by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) at the roadside each year had a serious mechanical defect, while more than nine out of 10 (93%) were overloaded. Around half of all vehicles stopped posed a road safety risk and were subsequently taken off the road at a cost to their owners of some £4,000 per day. Meanwhile, 50% of vans also failed their annual MOT test first time, compared with just 22% of HGVs, whose operators are bound by strict and costly licensing rules.
The clear message from the Commercial Vehicle Show is that business is booming. In the first quarter of 2015 overall 108,456 vans and trucks were registered in the UK, the best quarter on record. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive said, “Commercial Vehicles are crucial to the functioning of Britain’s economy. These latest figures paint a very encouraging picture as business confidence grows. Demand for the latest vans and trucks are now back to pre-recession levels, outpacing the rest of Europe.”
He added, “Commercial vehicles play a crucial role in the British economy and in supporting our everyday lives. There are currently 4.4 million vans and trucks on our roads delivering 81% of all goods and shifting almost 3,000-tonnes of goods every minute. In 2014 alone these vehicles covered 61 billion miles in the UK.”
Over 190,000 visitors are expected to attend the CV Show which will feature exhibits from 450 companies. By Miles Better News Agency