Chip shortage starves September LCV sales

Market struggles in what is traditionally a crucial month for new van sales


The global semiconductor shortage has been blamed for a big slide in LCV registrations in September, traditionally one of the busiest months of the year.

September and March are both important as registration plate months, even to commercial vehicle buyers, but this year’s September van registration total of 31,535 units was about 40% down compared to 2020.

The continuing shortage of the chips, which are used in electronic systems throughout all vans, has been blamed on growing production issues over several years which have been accelerated by the Covid pandemic. The lack of chips is now causing production bottlenecks at van manufacturers and resulting in dealers being unable to fulfil orders.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which produces the figures, tried to highlight positive aspects, including that year-to-date registrations are still 28% up on 2020. But they are also almost 6% below a five-year pre-pandemic average, and the lowest September figures since 2009.

2109 LCV registrations overview

All sectors of the market saw double-digit declines with the biggest part of the market, 2.5 to 3.5-tonne vehicles, sliding 28% to 22,647 units. The biggest drop was in the 2.0 to 2.5-tonne sector, down 70% 2,661 vehicles registered.

Despite the September figures heavier vans continue to drive the market, with 51,000 more vehicles registered in 2021 compared to 2020.

Ford remains in control of the new van top ten, with the Transit Custom and the Transit holding the leading two places in both the September and year-to-date sales chart. But while the Volkswagen Transporter holds third place in the year-to-date chart, just ahead of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with just 133 more registrations, the Volkswagen could only manage eighth place in September’s sales.  

2109 LCV registrations top ten

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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