New van market falls 86% in April due to coronavirus

The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined by 86% in April as nearly all registrations stopped due to coronavirus lockdowns.

New figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that just 3,387 LCVs joined UK roads in April, 21,217 fewer than in the same month last year.

The 3,387 vans registered in April were largely made up of orders rushed through to meet demand of industries working on the front line of the coronavirus response, including fleets for the NHS, emergency services, pharmaceutical, food distribution and home delivery services, as the nation grew more reliant on these key businesses.

Demand for all types of smaller commercial vehicles was hit badly. For instance, there were just 271 pickups registered in April, down 92%, while vans weighing 2.0 tonnes or less saw a 92% decline and registrations of mid-sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell 90%. Meanwhile, demand for larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes was down 83%, with 2,588 vans delivered to operators.

With lockdown measures effective across the country since mid-March, performance year-to-date has declined 44%, with over 56,000 fewer vehicles registered than in the same period last year.

SMMT’s latest forecast expects an overall LCV market decline of 28% for 2020, equivalent to a market of 263,000 units by the end of the year. Although registrations are expected to recover in 2021, the expectation is still for a 6% decline on 2019, which was a particularly healthy year.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “These figures, while not surprising, are still shocking. Restoring business confidence and delivering the safe restart of retail operations will be key to kick-starting demand. Getting this important market moving again will be critical to the wider automotive sector’s recovery and provide a boost to the UK economy as we begin emerge from this crisis.”

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now the editor of our three commercial vehicle titles: The Van Expert, The Truck Expert and Commercial Vehicle Engineer.

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