September sees LCV sales grow for the first time this year

After successive months of declining sales, the LCV market actually grew by 11% in September, but this isn't as impressive as it seems


After eight months of consecutive year-on-year decline for the light van market, September marked the first month of LCV sales growth this year, as registrations were up 11% when compared to September last year.

According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), nearly 35,000 new LCVs were registered in the UK in September, up from over 15,000 in August. That said, last month’s LCV registration figures are artificially inflated, as manufacturers either held back deliveries until the September number plate change or registered larger numbers of some vans to hit certain targets.

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 light vans under two tonnes dropped by 14% and 22% respectively year-on-year, while the registrations of vans between two and two and a half tonnes surged 41% last month when compared to September 2021. The SMMT takes this as a sign that pandemic-related component shortages are starting to ease for some manufacturers.

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.

BEVs continue “their upward trend”

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 70% more electric van registrations in September this year compared to the same month in 2021.

That said, EV sales still only account for around 4% of the overall market, and the SMMT says that taking measures to address the “UK’s economic sluggishness” is now crucial if BEV growth is to continue.

The electric light van registrations total from January to September has grown 53% when compared to the same period last year, as a growing number of zero emission van models arrive on the market, and more operators benefit from lower taxation, purchase incentives and zone charge exemptions.

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.

Vauxhall and Volkswagen recorded very healthy registration numbers in September, both considerably improving on their September 2021 registration figures. Citroën also outperformed the overall market by 10% in July, as did Peugeot, Isuzu, and Maxus.

Conversely, it wasn’t a healthy month of sales for the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Toyota 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 September 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 in September, followed by the Transit and Ranger in second and third.

The Ford Transit Custom extends its lead to over 33,000 models sold so far this year, 8,000 more than the bigger Ford Transit, and over 20,000 more than the Vauxhall Vivaro in third place in the annual rankings.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter continues to sell in consistent numbers, but drops to fifth position in the annual sales figures as the Ford Ranger 4×4 surges up the rankings after an impressive month.

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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