LCV sales shrink by a fifth in October

After September growth, British LCV sales decreased by 18% year-on-year in October according to the SMMT's latest figures


After the LCV market grew for the first month this year in September, monthly LCV sales shrank once again last month when compared to the light van registration figures of covid-stricken October 2021.

According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), nearly 22,000 new LCVs were registered in the UK in October as the van market shrank by 18% year-on-year. The SMMT adds that these October registration numbers are the worst since 2012, and blames manufacturer supply shortages, claiming that demand for light vans remains “robust”.

Market growth is indeed a positive indication, but when you consider the bigger picture, September’s registration figures were not that impressive. Growth of 11% over the sales numbers of September 2021, which was the worst September for the LCV market in over a decade, isn’t that big of a step forward.

Compared to pre-covid figures, last month’s LCV sales were 35% weaker than the five-year average for September results from 2014 to 2019.

The registrations of pickups and 4x4s actually increased by 28% and 18% respectively year-on-year, registrations of light vans under two tonnes decreased by a staggering 81% when compared to October 2021. This has led the SMMT to revise its annual sales predictions, though it still remains hopeful that December sales numbers will be more promising as supply issues begin to ease.

Looking at the whole of 2022 so far, the LCV market is 20% smaller than it was this time last year, with decreasing sales numbers for every LCV market sector.

BEV sales are growing, but not as fast as expected

Things are looking considerably more promising for the battery electric vehicle (BEV) market, which continues to improve on its 2021 sales figures month after month. There were 53% more electric van registrations in October this year compared to the same month in 2021.

However, the SMMT says that this all-electric growth is not quite as fast as it was expecting. The trade association has dropped its projected annual BEV sales prediction by half a percentage point, as electric light vans still only account for around 4% of the overall market. BEVs are expected to represent 11% of the market by 2024.

To increase uptake, 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.

Good month, bad month

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

Isuzu and Volkswagen recorded very healthy registration numbers in October, both considerably improving on their October 2021 registration figures. Peugeot also outperformed the overall market by 10% in October, as did Renault, Toyota, and Iveco.

Conversely, it wasn’t a healthy month of sales for the likes of Vauxhall, Citroën and Fiat. 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 extends commanding LCV sales lead

The LCV best-sellers list for October displays that it was business as usual for Ford last month, with four different entrants in the top ten. The Transit Custom was the country’s best-selling van yet again last month, followed by the Transit in second.

The Ford Transit Custom extends its lead to over 36,000 models sold so far this year, over 8,000 more than the bigger Ford Transit, and over 20,000 more than the Vauxhall Vivaro in third place in the annual rankings.

Usually crowned the ‘best of the rest’ on a monthly basis, the Vivaro dropped down the table in October, outsold by its Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and Renault rivals.

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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