News : British-built Transit dominates reliability survey

Dan Powell

A 4667

The British-built Ford Transit is the UK’s most reliable van, according to a survey of the 50 largest contract hire and leasing companies. The FN50 reliability survey, by trade magazine Fleet News, analysed the UK’s largest hire and lease organisations. The survey is based on downtime caused by warranty claims, recalls and breakdowns.

Ford took joint honours for best model and manufacturer for the second consecutive year, while the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (pre-facelift) improved its reliability record to clinch second place from the Transit Connect. However, Mercedes-Benz sufferered disappointment in the overall manufacturers’ table, with Volkswagen relegating it to third.

The news that the Transit has been ranked the UK’s most reliable van will be met with mixed emotions by the industry as it comes just a few months after Ford decided to shut the Southampton plant, which had been responsible for building the iconic van for the last 40 years. More than 500 workers were made redundant at the Swaythling facility, with production moving to Turkey where costs are significantly lower.

However, there was good news for Vauxhall and its British-built Vivaro, which was ranked the seventh most reliable van in the UK. Elsewhere in the FN50 reliability survey, the Volkswagen Transporter took fourth place for a second consecutive year, while the Volkswagen Caddy took fifth position in the table. Although Mitsubishi had no models in the top 10, an overall improvement in reliability saw it enter the manufacturers’ table for the first time, with tenth place overall.

Top 10 most reliable vans (last year’s position in brackets)

  1. Ford Transit (1)
  2. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (3)
  3. Ford Transit Connect (2)
  4. Volkswagen Transporter (4)
  5. Volkswagen Caddy (5)
  6. Mercedes-Benz Vito (6)
  7. Vauxhall Vivaro (7)
  8. Renault Trafic (8)
  9. Vauxhall Movano (9)
  10. Renault Master (-)

Top 10 most reliable van manufacturers (last year’s position in brackets)

  1. Ford (1)
  2. Volkswagen (3)
  3. Mercedes-Benz (2)
  4. Vauxhall (4)
  5. Renault (6)
  6. Peugeot (8)
  7. Nissan (7)
  8. Citroën (5)
  9. Fiat (9)
  10. Mitsubishi (-)

Ford Transit (2)

Keith Adams


  1. I’m from Southampton and around the same age as the Transit factory. The site has a history of manufacturing, and is close to the long gone hangars of what was Eastleigjh airport (now Southampton International), where the Spitfire was developed. Strange how such a long lineage of manufacturing can cease. I remember in the ’70s hoards of workers emerging from the factory and, up until recently, convoys of Transits being driven down to the docks for export.Sad times…
    …but I’m not sure it’s ‘game over’ at Swaythling. Ford retains a skeleton staff, and talk of redevelopment has stopped. Some sort of vehicle distribution is going on, but my weekly drives past the site lead me to think it is a mothballed facility. It is brilliantly located next to the M27, near an international sea port and, although old, a ground floor site that could become a premium marque or specialist niche manufacturing base. Does Ford have anything up its sleeve? I think so, but cannot be rational about this old friend; the lower vertebrae of the Backbone of Britain does not deserve to be removed. Ford, at least let it fossilise a little.

  2. So Transits produced in Britain prove to be the most reliable commercial vehicle on the market whilst the Transit itself sells more units in the UK than the rest of Europe, if not the world put together. So what does Ford, that most disloyal and treacherous of companies do? Close the UK factory. Unforgiveable, particularly when the UK is emerging as one of the best locations for vehicle production with huge investment by JLR, BMW, Nissan, Toyota etc. Everyone seems to regard Ford as British still. It has built no passenger cars in this country for 12 years. Ford of Europe is the German subsidiary of a US Company. Nothing remotely British about it.

  3. Re 2: Ford have a long history of treating it’s work force in a shabby manner, going right back to old Henry’s thugs at the Battle of the Overpass. At least they haven’t shot anybody here! Dagenham and Browns Lane were treated in an equally bad way as the Southampton people. The record in Australia and the US isn’t great either in recent years.

  4. In response to comment #2: “Ford of Europe is the German subsidiary of a US Company. Nothing remotely British about it”.

    Wrong. While I don’t agree with Ford closing the Transit factory either, the fact remains that they carry out R&D in Essex and build 1+ million petrol engines in Wales and diesel engines in Dagenham.

  5. Real surprise that this top 10 is almost the bottom 10 of a car reliability survey…

    No Toyota? The outgoing Hiace was a favourite of funeral parlours, replaced by a rebadged Peugeot Partner.

    The only Japanese representative is Mitsubishi, do they even still sell vans? The L300 was a decent van, even Hyundai continued making it. The L200 seems to be a popular pickup.


    The Ford Belfast plant was offloaded to Visteon, which then closed a few years later.
    Ford weren’t going to honour pension commitments, the ex-staff held sitins at the closed factory.

  6. @3 Exactly Kev, Henry Ford wasn’t a nice guy at all and people do still believe that this all American company was British, it simply wasn’t/isn’t. Another good factory mothballed. Even though the workforce in Southampton produced the most reliable and best van. Just plain ridiculous.
    Looking on the bright side Ford does have huge engine factory’s in the UK, although good old JLR produce many of their engines at Bridgend too.
    Plus Fords R&D facility s in the UK of course.

  7. It is a shame that ford has stopped assembly in the UK but they do still employ a lot of people here and this should be increased in my view.

    The problem was that they had too many factories in Europe and the ones in the UK had issues – Dagenham needed huge investment and Southampton had no room for expansion.

    What I would like to see is a new ford plant in the UK but I can’t see that happening alas. Such a shame that the Euro subsidises Germany so much

  8. Skewed survey. Northgate plc claims circa £3 million a year from Ford Motor Company never mind all the recalls.

  9. @3 Indeed. I had a relative worked at Halewood. One of the longest strikes was the infamous bent bracket showdown of 1983. The factory was on overtime for weeks before the strike started with every spare bit of land in Merseyside packed with new Escorts forming a buffer stock. After 8 weeks on strike workers returned when Ford suddenly relented to find the factory re-tooled and ready for the start of Orion production. Ford had deliberately engineered the dispute to avoid having to fund lay-off pay. A company almost as shabby as the cheap and nasty products it builds.

  10. I don’t think vans are as reliable as the passenger cars that also use the same engines- not surprising given how much larger and how much harder vans have to work.

    Bit surprised that Iveco isn’t in the top ten- the voluntary organisation that I worked for recently had mostly Daily lutons, as well as a Ducato luton (gearbox/clutch replacement in first year), a Transit panel van, and the last LDV Maxxus ever made (according to the gaffer). Dailies don’t enjoy the best build quality, if cab plastics, fit and finish are to go by, however they have been very reliable in that fleet.

  11. Dailies are cheap as chips, thats why Asda has them on their grocery delivery fleet,they approached Mercedes and they could not deliver on time or on price but Iveco could.

  12. @12 The procurement of fleets is fascinating and great fun – the feedback I am getting at present is that Renault are offering the best leasing deals and Iveco are also very cheap as you said – however the Daily and the Master (and Vauxhall Movano)are the same van.

    Its a good time to be buying or leasing vans as there is so much more capacity than sales at present.

  13. The procurement of fleets is fascinating and great fun – the feedback I am getting at present is that Renault are offering the best leasing deals and Iveco are also very cheap as you said – however the Daily and the Master (and Vauxhall Movano)are the same van.

    Its a good time to be buying or leasing vans as there is so much more capacity than sales at present.

  14. @13, The Master and Daily are not the same vans.
    As for lease deals, is that in a monetary sense or service sense?
    Do they offer 24/7 non stop assistance and same day same vehicle replacement and free servicing,tyres and MOT?

  15. Good for Ford and the workforce who assembled the Transits. Shame it will be the last time this ever happens.

    One related point however, clearly we bash Ford for closing the plant, but why is it so much cheaper to build the vehicles in Turkey? Fixing that issue is surely the crux of the matter.


  16. @15 – My mistake the Renault and Iveco are different.

    The deals do vary and you have hit on the biggest single challenge of any procurement – making sure you are comparing on a like for like basis and to consider the whole life cost not just the initial cost. However,price is only one factor in the specification – for fleet resilience and image also matter (it never looks good to have your name writ large on the side of a broken down van!).

    My preferred approach is to offer a core specification to my client’s requirements and then allow bidders to submit additional variant bids which can include servicing etc. Although not as complex as some categories I source it is much more complex than many think although there is a direct
    link between overproduction and costs.

  17. @17 Yeah i agree,must be why a lot of firms use Northgate,they do the thinking and deliver what the customer wants.

  18. Re 18: Labour costs in Turkey are around half of those in the UK. Because UK labour laws are incredibly soft compared to say, Germany, it’s easy to export jobs as Ford have just done.

  19. Ford got a grant from the EU to build the factory in Turkey to assemble Transits. The same Turkey that isn’t a member of the EU. Its a scandalous situation that the UK taxpayer has subsidised a company like Ford to relocate jobs outside of the UK.

  20. It’s sad that the UK has lost Transit production but we shouldn’t blame Ford any more than we should be blaming the van buyers.

    Come on, be honest – who on this forum is happy to pay more for any item just to be able to say they’ve bought British ?

  21. @24, A good point. I think its almost impossible in a consumer led society now, I wish we could be self sufficient in terms of our manufacturing with enough left over for export but we can dream. We do this with food as well, fruit from all corners of the globe with much getting thrown away, for every calorie in food we consume there is ten calories of hydrocarbon energy used in getting it to our plates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.