Van market reverses gear in March

Demand for big vans slips despite plate change


Sales of new vans slid back almost 6% in March, emphasising the current volatile nature of the market.

The 59,764 new vans registered in the month was 5.6% down on March 2017, and reversed a 6% climb in February. This, in turn, had been in contrast to a 4.2% drop in January.

According to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), just over 94,000 new LCVs have been registered in the first quarter of 2018, down 3.7% when compared with the same period in 2017.

Increased demand in March for smaller vans, up 1.8%, and pickups, climbing 6.8%, failed to compensate for a 2% slip in the medium market, and particularly a 10.5% slip in the heaviest 2.5 to 3.5-tonne van sector. With 36,027 vehicles registered in the month, this represents by far the largest part of the market.

April van sales The Van ExpertCommenting on the figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes admits that the decline, in the important plate change month of March, is a concern.

“We need the right economic conditions to restore market stability and encourage buyers to invest in new commercial vehicles,” Hawes says.

“The new van market is a key barometer of business confidence and while uncertainty remains, a degree of fluctuation in demand is to be expected this year.”

Ford stays on top

The latest van best sellers list maintains the domination of Ford, with the Transit Custom (pictured above) topping the chart with 9,397 registrations and its sister Transit second on 5,255.

The Volkswagen Transporter sits in third on 4,292, followed by the Peugeot Partner (3,019), Ford Transit Connect (2,855) and the Vauxhall Vivaro – the future of which as a British vehicle was confirmed this week.

Also demonstrating success as the UK’s best-selling pickup is the Ford Ranger. Seventh most popular LCV in March with 2,622 registrations, the Ford’s first-quarter figure of 4,274 is better than the Vauxhall Vivaro van.

April van bestsellers The Van Expert
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars and vans for more than 20 years, and attends many new model launches each year.

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