New van market falls for third consecutive month

New light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations fell by 9.6% in November, the third consecutive monthly decline, with market uncertainty and regulatory changes continuing to affect performance, according to new figures.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that 2,797 fewer models registered in November compared to the same period last year as all van categories and 4x4s experienced double digit declines.

This comes after LCV registrations fell by 23% in September and 11% in October. The introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure and ongoing political and economic uncertainty has been widely cited as the reason for this.

In November, registrations of small vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes and medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell by 24% and 19.4% respectively, compared to the same month in 2018. Demand for larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes also declined by 11.4%, and the 4×4 segment fell too by 12.4%. The only exception to this was pickups, where sales grew by 17.2%.

However, despite these three months of decline, performance in the year to date is still up, rising 1.9%, with an extra 6,451 new LCVs joining UK roads.

Likewise, over 2018 to date, sales of all van sectors are up, except for pickups, 4x4s and rigids between 3.5-6 tonnes, which are down 1%, 10.3% and 8% respectively.

Vans between 2-2.5 tonnes have seen the biggest growth in sales this year, up by 8.6%. Vans under 2 tonnes have the next strongest growth, of 4.1%, followed by vans from 2.5-3.5 tonnes, up 1%.

The biggest selling LCV of the month was the Ford Transit Custom, which shifted 3,046 units. This is also the biggest selling LCV of the year, with 48,912 sold – almost double that of its nearest rival.

Second most popular LCV in November was the Vauxhall Vivaro, which sold 2,452. In third place was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2,321 sold), followed by the Ford Ranger (1,946) and Ford Transit (1,758).

In the year to date, the Ford Transit is the second most popular LCV, selling 24,594. This is followed by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (23,931), Volkswagen Transporter (17,697) and the Vauxhall Vivaro (16,385).

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said that a third consecutive month of decline for new van registrations was “concerning”, particularly after it has come after growth for much of the year. “Ongoing political uncertainty doesn’t help inspire business confidence but this is essential if we are to embolden further investment in new vehicles which will go a long way to improving air quality in our towns and cities,” he said.

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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