August van sales buck trend with busy showrooms

2021 sales boom continues for new LCV registrations


The UK van market saw its second-best August sales figures in 2021, in what is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year as buyers wait for September and the registration plate change.

According to figures published today from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), there were more than 20,000 new LCV registrations in August, which was 10% up on the Covid-hit figure of August 2020 and more than 20% above the average August registration figures from 2015 to 2019.

Year-to-date van registrations are running well ahead of 2020, as expected, but also only 4% below the record year of 2019. Constituent factors are thought to include the soaring levels of home shopping resulting from the pandemic, resulting in increased demand for delivery vehicles.

The buoyant van figures are in stark contrast to the August sales in the new car market, which plummeted principally due to supply issues caused by manufacturers being forced to slow production lines in the wake of the global shortage of semi-conductor chips.

However this issue is looming for the van market and could affect sales later in the year. UK van production is already down more than 21% compared to the pre-pandemic average.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes is describing 2021 as “one of the best years ever for new van registrations”, buoyed by strong demand and growing confidence as the economy continues to open up, but he is also urging caution. “The impact of the semi-conductor shortage on manufacturing is affecting commercial vehicle production, even if it is not immediately apparent in the registration figures,” Hawes said.

2109 New Van sales Aug categories
Source: SMMT

All sectors of the van market saw growth in August with the exception of light vehicles of 2.5 tonnes and under, registrations of which slid 23%. The plus 2.5-tonne sector, which accounts for most of the market, grew 7% with 14,159 registrations, while 4×4 sales surged, registrations jumping from just 31 in August 2020 to 193 last month.

Ford dominates the top three places

Ford continues to dominate the van sales top ten. The combined registrations in August of the Ford Transit Custom (3592), Transit (2,161) and Ranger (1,776) were almost 1500 more than the rest of the top ten added together. The two Transit models also dominated the year-to-date table with the Volkswagen Transporter claiming third spot.


2109 New Van sales Aug top ten
Source: SMMT
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars and vans for more than 20 years, and attends many new model launches each year.

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