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Demand for medium-sized vans doubled in October

October marked the tenth month of consecutive growth for the new van market, as demand for mid-sized vans rose by 106% last month

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October marked the tenth straight month of consecutive registrations growth for the van market, as demand for medium-sized vans rose by 106% year-on-year last month.

According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the market grew by 18% overall when compared to October 2022. Over 26,000 new LCVs joined the UK road network last month – a modest 4,000 more than in last October.

Pickup and 4×4 registrations grew by 41% and 61% respectively, and sales of mid-size vans (between two and two-and-a-half tonnes) spiked when compared to the same month last year, rising 106%. In what is becoming a continuing trend, the sales of light vans under two tonnes fell by 20% last month.

Large vans (between two-and-a-half and three-an-a-half tonnes) still make up the large majority of new van sales though, and this sector grew by 5% year-on-year – a small increase that accounts for an extra 900 registrations.

Though sales are on the rise, the supply issues manufacturers are facing haven’t entirely dissipated, and China’s persistent Covid-19 issues could cause further supply strain in the months to come.

Source: SMMT

EV uptake begins to slide

The battery-powered vehicle (BEV) sector of the LCV industry has continued to grow throughout 2023. At times it has been rather stagnant, showing minimal growth, but demand has never decreased year-on-year, until last month…

In stark comparison to a busy September where around 2,900 new BEVs were registered in the UK – an increase of 1,300 BEV sales – October saw only around 1,400 battery-powered vans registered for UK roads, a 20% drop when compared to October 2022.

Unsurprisingly diesel power still dominates, rising once again to account for 93% of last month’s new LCV sales. That said, the SMMT adds that last October’s registration figure was skewed by a rather large fleet order, but reiterates that the government needs to “pull every lever” to insure BEV uptake rates accelerate, particularly as the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate comes into effect in less than two months.

“With van makers committed to decarbonisation, the upcoming Autumn Statement is the moment for the government to send the right signal to operators ahead of the introduction of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate”, says SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Measures that address van-specific infrastructure challenges and enable more operators across the UK to make the switch are essential as we move towards a pivotal stage of the transition.”

Good month, bad month

While the BEV sales results paint a gloomy picture, many of the LCV sector’s big brands will be very content with their sales performance last month.

The most impressive sales increase belongs to Maxus, which mustered an optimistic 88% growth in registrations in October. Citroën, Toyota, 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 Ford, Fiat, Peugeot, and Iveco. All of these brands underachieved compared to the overall market by at least 10% (and in some cases, by a lot more than that).

Best-seller sales race all but sealed

With two months left of 2023, the annual sales race has settled into a consistent ranking at the top with the last-year’s best-selling LCV, the Transit Custom, in a rather insurmountable sales lead. The larger Transit has also become a pretty permanent fixture in second place, as Ford locked out the top two spots yet again in October.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was the UK’s ‘best-of-the-rest’ candidate last month, as the Vauxhall Vivaro slid two places in the monthly charts. Vauxhall reports that its Vivaro Electric is still the best-selling BEV in the UK so far.

The Ford Ranger pickup is still the UK’s best-selling pickup model by a country mile, and holds on to fourth place in the annual rankings.

The Volkswagen Transporter and Renault Trafic sit in the middle of the pack, while the Toyota Hilux, Maxus Deliver 9 and Citroën Berlingo complete the October rankings.

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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