In today’s market, vans are now being seen as a ‘smart pair of wheels’ and people are looking at them with a certain amount of image vanity, just as they do with cars, and manufacturers are now scrambling to keep pace with customer demand for good looking vans.
CAP Automotive has unearthed a trend relating to this. The independent authority has been commenting on the speed of model design changes being introduced by manufacturers. Up to recently, the van and commercial vehicle world had been considered to be immune to the pace of change seen in car design.
Last year CAP reported that the market lifespan of some car models had halved compared to that of car models from the 1970s. They attribute that to manufacturers competing to keep their products as fresh and interesting as possible.
Now, it seems as though the growing importance of aesthetic appeal has transferred over to the van market. This trend has been identified by CAP Automotive’s van price forecasting expert, Tim Cattlin, who comments that the days of vans being seen purely as a work tool are over.
Cattlin argues that, historically, the only part of the light commercial vehicle market which was strongly susceptible to fashion tastes had been the 4×4 lifestyle vehicle.
This was because, although a commercial vehicle, it is viewed and used in two forms. First as a family vehicle and also as as a ‘workhorse’.
The days of the van being seen as purely a tool to get a job done are clearly ending and the signs are strongest in the one tonne panel van market. For example, Ford has spent the first 18 months of the life of the Transit Custom successfully cultivating the ‘artisan’ retail smaller business sector. Looking at registration statistics there has been a high proportion of ‘Trend’ and ‘Limited’ models, with relatively high specification, sold.
However, Cattlin warned there can be a downside to becoming followers of van vanity, with vehicle values open to more unpredictability.
But along with this kind of design and feature dynamism, designed to inspire the end-user to keep up with the latest look and feel, comes the risk of less stable used van values. Looking again at the 4×4 lifestyle vehicle, key players in that sector such as Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Ford are fully aware of how their current offering can fall out of fashion quickly. When that happens and a model starts to fall behind its peers in terms of image, then demand drops off in the used market sufficiently to cause more rapidly falling values. In the end, the creep of vanity into the van market is a mixed blessing. It ensures a more dynamic marketplace, with exciting and fresh offerings appearing with increasing regularity. But it also threatens faster depreciation as model ‘shelf life’ begins to shorten and end-users are constantly drawn to the newest vehicle on offer.
Does image come into play when you are looking at buying a van or do you go for value or practicality? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter using the #IMV & #VanVanity hashtags. You can even post a picture of your van too.