The European light commercial vehicle (LCV) market has increased 6.1% so far this year with Renault the top-selling brand - up 1.6% - and Ford's Transit the top selling model - up 14.2%.

According to analyst Jato Dynamics, an additional 81,688 units were sold in Europe to the end of 2006, taking total volume to 1,423,430.

"These are very satisfactory figures for the industry," said Jato spokesman Nasir Shah. "The European car market is quite tough this year, so the commercial success of LCVs is a welcome shot in the arm for many manufacturers."

With a 46% share of the overall LCV market, the 'small' commercial sector is easily Europe's largest light van and truck segment and led by the Ford Transit, ahead of the Volkswagen Transporter, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Fiat Ducato and Renault Trafic.

Car-derived vans represent the next largest segment, with a 39% share of the overall market. The segment is led by the Citroën Berlingo, and followed by the Renault Kangoo, Volkswagen Caddy, Ford Transit Connect and Peugeot Partner.

Renault's 1.6% increase in sales makes it Europe's top-selling LCV brand for the period, ahead of Ford which increased sales by 10.9%, Fiat (up 9.0%), Volkswagen (up 9.2%) and Citroën (up 3.5%).

With a significant increase of 14.2% over the previous year, the Ford Transit is the top selling LCV model for the YtD, ahead of the Citroën Berlingo, Volkswagen Transporter (and derivatives), Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Renault Kangoo, Fiat Ducato, Iveco Daily, Renault Trafic, Volkswagen Caddy and Peugeot Partner.

The Peugeot 207 is the only new nameplate introduced since the beginning of last year, and has taken a significant share of the market. New models in the LCV market are introduced much less frequently than in the car market, with full model updates presenting the more attractive option for manufacturers.

Model updates that have generated an increase in market share include the Fiat Ducato, Citroën Jumper/Relay, Peugeot Boxer, Toyota Hilux, Peugeot Expert, Citroën Jumpy/Dispatch and Fiat Scudo.

"The LCV market is very dependent on brand loyalty, and is far less fickle than the car market," said Shah. "Manufacturers are more inclined to update their established brand names and ranges, rather than invest in frequent model changes."

Like the car market, the region of biggest market growth was central and eastern Europe, where many economies are growing at unprecedented rates. Of particular note, Latvia recorded significant market growth of 57%, while Slovenia saw a 40% rise, Poland a 33% rise, Cyprus a 33% rise and the Czech Republic a 30% rise.

In total volume terms, the greatest growth in Europe came from Germany (up 16,816 units), France (up 15,935 units) and the Netherlands (up 16,644 units).