LCV market records modest growth in February

February marked fourteen straight months of consecutive LCV registrations growth, as demand for light vans rose by a modest 2%


February marked fourteen straight months of consecutive registrations growth for the van market, as demand for light vans rose by a modest 2% year-on-year last month.

According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), close to 18,000 new LCVs arrived on British roads in last month, which the lobbying group says is the biggest February sales total in 26 years. In actuality, this isn’t as impressive as it sounds, as it is only 400 extra new LCV registrations than last February’s sales volume.

February is traditionally a low volume month as many UK buyers wait until March for the new numberplate. By comparison, around 24,000 new light vans were registered in the UK in January.

Pickup and 4×4 registrations grew by 21% and 108% respectively – a continuing trend for these sectors – while sales of small vans (under two tonnes) and mid-size vans (between two and two-and-a-half tonnes) fell by 21% and 6% respectively.

Large vans (between two-and-a-half and three-an-a-half tonnes) still make up the large majority of new van sales, and accounted for a large amount of the month’s overall 2% sales shift.

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

Falling EV uptake in February

After recording growth that matched the rest of the LCV market in 2023, things have taken a turn for the worse in the new year for the battery-powered van (BEV) sector, with around 110 less sales in February when compared to the same month last year.

That may not sound like much, but EV adoption isn’t as widespread in the LCV market as it is in the passenger car market, and this three-figure sales drop actually accounts for a 12% registrations decline year-on-year.

Compared to the BEV sector’s February market share which hovered under 5%, diesel is still by far and away the most popular operator choice, with over 16,600 sales accounting for 93% of all new LCVs last month.

So, why is EV uptake declining? With each manufacturer now mandated to achieve a minimum proportion of zero-emission registrations every year, this has been a worrying start for the BEV sector. The SMMT points to declining demand, and argues that increasing the rollout of charging stations – including van-specific charging infrastructure – will increase consumer BEV interest.

Good month, bad month

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

The likes of Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Fiat increased their registration numbers by over 50% in February year-on-year, while Maxus more than tripled its sales numbers. Iveco and Land Rover 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, Renault and Isuzu. All of these brands underachieved compared to the overall market by at least 10% (and in some cases, by a lot more than that).

Another one horse race?

Throughout 2023, one LCV dominated the best-selling van race in the UK – the Ford Transit Custom. Can you guess who leads the standings two months into 2024?

The mid-size Transit Custom and its larger Transit sibling are beginning to build a commanding sales lead once again, as Ford remains the UK’s most popular LCV manufacturer.

The Vauxhall Vivaro has re-established itself as the UK’s ‘best-of-the-rest’ candidate, Vauxhall also reporting that it is now the UK’s best-selling electric van manufacturer for a third year in a row.

The Ford Ranger pickup sits in fourth in the annual rankings and is now confirmed as the UK’s best-selling pickup model by a country mile. More good news for Ford – its Ranger is still the most popular pickup choice too, but it is now facing stiff competition from the chasing Toyota Hilux which actually finished higher in the February registrations leaderboard.

This year’s battle for ‘best-of-the-rest’ looks like it is going to be between the Vauxhall Vivaro and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, while the Citroën Berlingo – the best-selling compact LCV – sits in mid-table.

The Volkswagen Transporter, Ford Transit Connect and Maxus Deliver 9 complete the annual 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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