LCV market records positive start to 2023

Following a rather gloomy 2022, the 2023 LCV sales race has started strongly, as registrations grew by 26% in January year-on-year.


Following a rather gloomy 2022, the 2023 LCV sales race has started strongly, as registrations grew by 26% in January year-on-year.

According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), just over 22,000 new LCVs joined the UK road network last month – 4,000 more than in January 2022.

This is the first time that the LCV market has grown since September. The SMMT sees these January sales figures as an indicator of further growth throughout the year, particularly as January is known to be a rather volatile month due to the intermittent nature of van fleet renewal. Though promising, this January registrations total still falls 6% short of the sales volume of pre-pandemic January 2020.

The registrations of 4x4s were up 63% respectively year-on-year in January, while registrations of pickups also increased by 21% when compared to January 2022. Registrations of light vans under two tonnes fell by 23%, but sales of light vans over two and a half tonnes more than made up for this decline, increasing by 34%.

The SMMT estimates that the LCV market will grow by around 14% in 2023, 321,000 van registrations being the target. That said, the supply issues manufacturers are facing haven’t entirely dissipated, and the War in Ukraine and China’s rampant Covid-19 issues could cause further supply strain.

Electric vans sales surge by over 50% year-on-year

The latest figures show that electric van (BEV) uptake is moving from strength to strength in the UK as 2023 begins – BEV sales grew by 54% in January when compared to the same month last year.

Just under 1,000 electric vans were registered in the UK last month – still overshadowed by the near 21,000 diesel models that joined UK roads. This doesn’t sound all that impressive, but the BEV sales growth is still substantial, just under 650 BEVs were registered in January 2022.

As ever, the SMMT is calling for more government action to increase BEV demand, including further financial incentives and a quicker roll out of van chargepoint stations across the UK. The trade association says that the charging point infrastructure for electric vehicles is already insufficient, and is geared towards cars rather than vans.

Good month, bad month

Just like the passenger car market, the LCV industry has been hindered by supply shortages for over two years now, and each van manufacturer has been dealing with supply issues to varying degrees.

The most impressive sales increases belong to Renault and Nissan, which both sold five times more LCVs in January compared to the same month last year. Volkswagen, Isuzu and Fiat also outperformed the overall market by more than 10% in January, as did Toyota.

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

January’s best-sellers list pulls no surprises

Following Ford’s 2022 dominance, the 2023 LCV best-sellers race has kicked off in the same vein, with the last-year’s best-selling LCV, the Transit Custom, in pole position. It is little surprise to see the popular Transit Custom pick up where it left off, but its larger Transit sibling hasn’t had the strongest sales start. Usually a consistent top-three challenger, the Transit sits in fifth.

The Volkswagen Transporter could only muster just over half of the Transit Custom’s sales total, but that was enough for the Volkswagen to snatch second in the monthly chart, with the Ford Ranger pickup not that far behind.

The Vauxhall Vivaro, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Renault Trafic sit in the middle of the pack, while the Ford Transit Connect, Toyota Hilux and Citroën Relay complete January’s top ten.

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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