A huge survey of van fleet operators has seen Mercedes-Benz dominate key areas of the performance charts and many other leading manufacturers lagging well behind when it comes to satisfying their customers.

The UK Fleet Van Market Report 2018, by Sewells Research & Insight, questioned 1,088 fleet decision makers responsible for running light commercial vehicle fleets that range from a handful of vans to several thousand.

The respondents assessed 13 manufacturers in 33 different areas of vehicle performance, cost-effectiveness, and aftersales support.  Mercedes-Benz led the prized criteria of reliability and build quality, and achieved the highest percentage of ‘very satisfied’ customers in 13 of the 33 categories.

The results have assumed additional importance as the LCV market suffered declining sales in the final quarter of 2017.  Whether this is a blip or a trend is not yet clear, but there are signs that the economic uncertainty cascading down from the Brexit trade talks is starting to affect business confidence and companies’ willingness to invest.  If the new van market contracts, says Sewells, manufacturers will need to ensure their customers are ‘very satisfied’ in order to ensure new and repeat business, says the report.

The report also addressed the fuel policy of van fleets, as UK cities put the finishing touches to ultra-low emission zones in a bid to combat serious air pollution problems.  Among the existing fleet parc, the penetration of Euro 6 compliant diesels is worryingly low if fleets hope to avoid stiff ULEZ charges.  And the adoption of alternatively fuelled LCVs remains stubbornly below 1% of the new van market (where 99% of sales are diesel), despite the fact that almost one-third of vans drive fewer than 50 miles a day – a range easily satisfied by electric power.