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Getting to grips: Citroën Berlingo’s rising profile

An increase in trim levels is contributing to Berlingo’s sales success for Citroën, says Dan Gilkes.

Citroën Berlingo

Citroën is expecting to finish 2019 with sales around 6% higher than the SMMT’s overall van market predictions. This sales growth is being led by the new Berlingo and the latest Dispatch model, both of which are exceeding planned registration numbers.

“New Berlingo is doing better than the previous model. Our ambition was for 14,000 Berlingo in 2019,” said Citroën’s LCV product manager Matt Weston.

Citroën exceeded 8,000 Berlingo orders in the first six months of 2019 and looks on course to be well ahead of its predicted whole-year number. It’s been a similar story with the larger Dispatch, with a 2019 target of 6,000 vans well ahead of last year’s 5,000 registrations. The company has no problem meeting these sales, as right-hand drive Dispatch vans are now being built at the Vauxhall plant in Luton, cutting lead times.

All of which is good news if, as expected, there is a rush to register vans before the end of October. Indeed, Citroën has forward-ordered around three months’ worth of vans, to avoid any potential tariffs that may be imposed after the end of October.

“I would imagine that September is going to be a big month, to avoid the risk of Brexit,” said Weston.

All Citroën vans are now compliant with the Euro 6d emissions regulations and the complete diesel-powered line-up of Berlingo is now on sale. The company will not offer petrol engines in its LCVs. The eight-speed automatic transmission, which is currently only available on the 180hp engine in Dispatch, is to be offered with the 120hp engine as well, where it is expected to become a far more popular choice. The auto box costs around £1,300 on a Berlingo and £1,500 on the larger Dispatch van.

There will also be a new version of the Berlingo Electric by early 2021, while Citroën has already announced that it will launch a Dispatch Electric in mid-2020. The Relay Electric, seen at this year’s CV Show, should be available to order before the end of this year. All of the company’s electric vans will be offered in multiple specifications, with varying ranges and battery options.

Indeed, an increase in specification choice is believed to be one of the reasons for the continued success of Berlingo, as buyers opt for comfort, connectivity and safety for their drivers. Berlingo is based on PSA’s EMP2 car platform, from which the van business gains access to a wide range of driver assistance and safety technologies, from head-up displays and surround rear vision, to lane departure warning and active safety braking.

To market those benefits to customers, Citroën has developed four trim levels for the compact van, running from the entry-level X through to the popular Enterprise. It is also offering Worker and Driver trims, with a range of features for professional users.

Driver is aimed more at the van user undertaking longer journeys, incorporating dual zone air conditioning, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, an automatic electronic parking brake, Surround Rear Vision and an 8-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and DAB.

Worker, on the other hand, is intended to meet the needs of construction and forestry companies.  It comes with an extra 30mm of ground clearance, underbody protection, larger wheels with mud and snow tyres, a maximum 1,000kg payload, an overload indicator and multiple power sockets in the load area. Worker also get Citroën’s Grip Control system with Hill Descent Assist.

Grip Control is a clever electronic traction control system, with the driver able to set terrain types through a rotary dial in the cab. This includes road, snow, mud and sand, each one altering the relationship between the electronic differential and the braking system, to allow a certain amount of wheel slip and boost traction. It is proving to be an attractive option, taking 8-10% of UK Berlingo sales, while Driver is now accounting for up to 15% of orders. Enterprise remains the most popular trim with fleet users, while very few customers are now taking the entry-level X model.

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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