Britain’s best-seller in 2021? No, not the Vauxhall Corsa: that’s merely the best-selling car. Somewhat amazingly, it’s the Ford Transit Custom, which tells you a lot about where the Blue Oval has prioritised its limited chip supply and the relative health of the van industry in the pandemic.
The final numbers are yet to be counted, but the Transit Custom is up an unassailable 25% or so on the Corsa.
It’s worth noting too that, were car and van sales merged, the Ford Transit would be vying with (and leading) the Mercedes A-Class and Volkswagen's Volkswagen Polo and Volkswagen Golf for third overall.
The success of Ford’s van division in this most trying of years is truly something to behold.
Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising: some years ago, someone at Ford anecdotally and with tongue only slightly in cheek rued that the only vehicles that made firm any profit in Europe were SUVs and vans, hence their prioritisation as soon as chip supply started to get shaky.
In the crudest of terms, a van sells for the price of a car yet is much cheaper to make, thanks largely to its simpler body structure and a rear largely devoid of content, so focusing on their production lines was a no-brainer.
Just how healthy the van market is was underlined by last month’s registration figures. They were once again at a record-breaking level for the month, up 11.4% on the five-year rolling average pre-pandemic, taking the overall figure to the cusp of the years before anyone outside of the medical profession had ever discussed Covid-19.