This year alone, Vauxhall’s van conversion sales have risen by an incredible 63%, thanks in part to the Vauxhall Conversion Centre that is situated within the company’s Luton plant.
As with many competitors, Vauxhall has for many years offered factory-built dropsides, tippers and box vans, which together account for around 55% of conversion market demand. The company also has a range of recognised conversions, including 4WD Movano, lightweight tippers, Luton vans including a low-floor model, plus recovery trucks and minibuses.
All of these conversions can be ordered as a complete vehicle through dealers, carrying the full three-year/100,000 mile warranty from the manufacturer.
Then there are approved conversions, where Vauxhall works with more than 50 bodybuilders, with 40 more currently undergoing accreditation to the scheme, to offer an even wider range of vehicles. These converters provide a warranty on the conversion to match Vauxhall’s standard three-year chassis terms.
On top of that, the Vauxhall Conversion Centre provides a one-stop-shop, primarily for larger fleets that want specific upgrades and changes to vehicles. The VCC also builds the Vivaro Doublecab for the factory, using a second row of seating from Snoeks, at a rate of 150-175 per week. The VCC also upgrades Vivaro people carriers, with a kit from Irmscher available to dealers.
So far this year, the VCC had converted 9,200 vehicles to the end of October. This included regular customers like British Gas, which has no less than eight different internal layouts for Vivaro depending on the requirements of the engineer. One of the more unusual features of the Vivaro conversion for British Gas is a floor-mounted tray that lies diagonally across the vehicle and through the load-hatch in the bulkhead to sit under the passenger seat. This allows the firm’s engineers to carry copper pipe within the van rather than having to have a roof-mounted storage box.
While the focus has until now been on larger fleet customers, Vauxhall is to make the VCC service available to smaller fleet customers in the coming year. This will include installing racking from leading players such as Bri-Stor, Bott and Sortimo, with Vauxhall staff having undergone full installation training from the racking suppliers.
The centre will also offer ply lining, alarms, sign writing and wrapping in a one-stop-shop approach for customers.
The service will be available primarily through Vauxhall’s 100 Premier Van Centres. These centres are further lifting their service levels, with national fleet menu pricing and labour rates now available across the country.
It is not just conversions that are pushing Vauxhall sales this year. Vauxhall’s LCV fleet sales have risen by 52% this year, in a CV fleet market that is up by 23%. Retail sales have also grown, by 20%, pushing Vauxhall’s overall van sales by a very healthy 38% so far in 2015. This has driven the firm’s fleet share up by 1.7% and its retail share by 2.6%.
Breaking those figures down into van models, the new Vivaro continues to lead the way, grabbing 51% of Vauxhall’s UK van registrations, with more than 13,500 still on the order book and the factory having to increase production with a second shift.
Movano sales are up by 44%, with Combo rising 7% and Corsavan up by 13%. Remarkably, Vauxhall’s UK demand represents 41% of all Vauxhall/Opel LCV sales in Europe so far this year.