Best January in three years for LCV market

Just under 24,000 new LCVs arrived on Britain, in what the SMMT says was the highest volume of January registrations for three years


The new LCV market had a successful 2023, with 12 straight months of consecutive light van registration growth. 2024 is set to continue this trend, as January saw an 8% jump in sales year-on-year.

According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), just under 24,000 new LCVs arrived on British roads last month, in what the organisation says was the highest volume of January registrations for three years.

Pickup and 4×4 registrations grew by 18% and 62% respectively, and sales of mid-size vans (between two and two-and-a-half tonnes) rose by 61%. On the other hand, small van (under two tonnes) registrations fell by 20% in January.

Large vans (between two-and-a-half and three-an-a-half tonnes) still make up the large majority of new van sales though. This sector has been pretty stagnant in recent months and fell by 5%, accounting for over 14,800 new registrations.

These figures indicate that the LCV market is on track to recover from the struggles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the supply issues manufacturers are facing haven’t entirely dissipated.

Source: SMMT

Increasing EV uptake?

The battery-powered vehicle (BEV) sector of the LCV industry grew by 21% in 2023. While this looks promising, this is in line with the LCV market’s growth as a whole, and BEVs still account for 6% of all new light vans in the UK – the same as 12 months ago.

Moving into 2024, the sales of battery-powered vans actually outgrew the market as a whole in January, with a 19% uptick in sales when compared to January 2023. This begs the question, is demand for electric vans increasing in the UK?

With the government’s EV mandate looming (10% of every van manufacturer’s sales in the UK must be BEVs this year), the SMMT predicts that the BEV sector will grow and account for 9% of the overall LCV market by the end of the year – just shy of the government’s 10% target.

As it has throughout 2023, the SMMT is calling for “Immediate action to reduce existing barriers to BEV uptake”, citing that the single biggest obstacle is the insufficient number of van-suitable public chargers. It also calls for a long-term commitment to the plug-in van grant to make the all-electric switch “accessible and equitable for operators across all sectors and parts of the country.”

Good month, bad month

Many of the LCV sector’s big brands will be very content with their sales performance last month.

Market leader Ford grew its sales by a modest 3%, while the likes of Toyota, Land Rover and Maxus increased their registration numbers by over 50% in January year-on-year, while Nissan more than tripled its sales numbers. Citroën, Vauxhall and Volkswagen also outperformed the overall market by more than 10% last month.

Conversely, it wasn’t a healthy month of sales for the likes of Renault and Peugeot. All of these brands underachieved compared to the overall market by at least 10% (and in some cases, by a lot more than that).

Ford continue strong form

Throughout 2023, one LCV dominated the best-selling van race in the UK – the Ford Transit Custom. The mid-sized van is once again at the top of the annual sales race, with the larger Transit in second after January.

The Vauxhall Vivaro has re-established itself as the UK’s ‘best-of-the-rest’ candidate in third, followed by the current compact best-seller – the Citroën Berlingo.

The Ford Ranger pickup sits in fourth and this the top-ranked pickup by a country mile, ahead of the Toyota Hilux which sits in eighth.

The Volkswagen Transporter, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Peugeot Partner and Ford Transit Connect complete the January sales standings.

Source: SMMT
Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Van Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in van-buying need with independent and impartial advice.

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