Sliding business confidence hits LCV sales

Van registrations drop 7.4% as uncertainty bites.

Registrations of new vans slumped again in October, as industry leaders blamed economic and political uncertainty for a drop in business confidence.

According to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) 24,968 light-commercial vehicles were registered during the month, a drop of 7.4% on October 2016.

The market has been declining since the start of 2017 but had picked up over the summer. However the latest figures suggest an accelerating drop after a 4% fall in September. Year to date the LCV sector is down 3.5%.

The largest sector of the market, for vans between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, recorded 15,658 registrations, 5.2% down, while the sub-2.0-tonne sector was one of the most heavily, hit with just 2,281 registrations, more than 20% down on October 2016. Only pick-ups showed a positive result, 3,549 registered, up 0.5%.

Predictions down

The SMMT recently revised downwards its forecast for the overall van market in 2017, blaming the uncertainty caused by such factors as the Brexit negotiations, and SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes claimed that this month’s decline was not unexpected.

“While the market remains at a very high level, the recent decline in business confidence, caused by economic and political uncertainty, is now having an impact on van registrations,” Hawes said.

Again he called upon the Government to help the industry out of its troubles. “Government must therefore address these concerns and create the conditions necessary for the market to prosper,” he said.

The Ford Transit continues to dominate the van top 10 but not the traditional version. The Transit Custom has so far seen 43,604 registrations in 2017, while the Transit recorded 23,370.

Both are well ahead of the third-placed Mercedes-Benz Sprinter on 18,9346, followed by the Volkswagen Transporter (18,163). A third Transit model, the Connect comes next at 16,667 followed by the only UK-built van in the chart, the Vauxhall Vivaro (16,099).

Ford Transit Custom The Van Expert
The Ford Transit Custom continues to dominate the market.

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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