UK van market falls 23% in September

The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market fell by 23.5% year-on-year in September, fuelled by the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and ongoing political and economic uncertainty, according to new figures.

Statistics released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that 41,216 LCVs were registered in the month, down some 12,632 units on September 2018. This is also in stark contrast to August, where LCV registrations were up by 41% year-on-year.

Registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes fell by 35.2% in the month. The pickup and 4×4 segments both fell again, by 18.8% and 48.4% respectively, although combined they accounted for less than a fifth of the whole market. Registrations of both have been falling for several months.

Meanwhile, other LCV types fared better. Registrations of small vans weighing less than 2 tonnes was up 12.3%, while medium vans weighing 2-2.5 tonnes saw 16.8% growth.

September’s losses follow a period of sustained growth, with LCV registrations rising in every month of 2019 to August, as buyers responded to a range of deals and a raft of new models. In the year-to-date the market is up 4.5%, with more than 286,000 new vans hitting the road, most (62.2%) weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes.

Overall this year, registrations of vans weighing 2-2.5 tonnes are up 9.8% year-on-year, with vans under 2 tonnes up 7%. Registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes, despite the large fall in September, are up 4.7% overall in 2019.

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, which represents franchised commercial vehicle and car retailers across the UK, blamed the fall on the introduction of the WLTP in September causing a shortage of product availability.

“We are expecting the market to rebalance in the final quarter of 2019 as the WLTP changes work through the system,” Robinson added.

“Positively, the market is still up 4.5% year-to-date, however whilst dealers are saying there is still pent-up demand in the market, many buyers are holding off making purchasing decisions until the current political and economic uncertainty dissipates.”

In terms of individual models weighing under 3.5 tonnes, the Ford Transit Custom continued to sell double that of its closest rival, shifting 5,653 units in September. The Vauxhall Vivaro was the next best seller, with 2,827 registrations. This was followed by the Ford Ranger (2,377 sales), Peugeot Partner (2,350) and Ford Transit Connect (2,304).

Overall in 2019, the Ford Transit Custom has sold 43,416 units, more than double that of the next best seller, the Ford Transit (21,544). The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is next best seller (19,638), followed by the Volkswagen Transporter (15,243) and Ford Ranger (12,655).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “These figures are unusual as LCV registrations have been growing this year, but the impact of regulatory changes, coupled with ongoing political and economic uncertainty, distorted the market in September. Registrations for the year-to-date are still healthy, however, but for this to be maintained we need stability restored, which should give renewed confidence to businesses to invest in their fleets.”

Statistics released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that 41,216 LCVs were registered in the month, down some 12,632 units on September 2018. This is also in stark contrast to August, where LCV registrations were up by 41% year-on-year.

Registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes fell by 35.2% in the month. The pickup and 4×4 segments both fell again, by 18.8% and 48.4% respectively, although combined they accounted for less than a fifth of the whole market. Registrations of both have been falling for several months.

Meanwhile, other LCV types fared better. Registrations of small vans weighing less than 2 tonnes was up 12.3%, while medium vans weighing 2-2.5 tonnes saw 16.8% growth.

September’s losses follow a period of sustained growth, with LCV registrations rising in every month of 2019 to August, as buyers responded to a range of deals and a raft of new models. In the year-to-date the market is up 4.5%, with more than 286,000 new vans hitting the road, most (62.2%) weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes.

Overall this year, registrations of vans weighing 2-2.5 tonnes are up 9.8% year-on-year, with vans under 2 tonnes up 7%. Registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes, despite the large fall in September, are up 4.7% overall in 2019.

In terms of individual models weighing under 3.5 tonnes, the Ford Transit Custom continued to sell double that of its closest rival, shifting 5,653 units in September. The Vauxhall Vivaro was the next best seller, with 2,827 registrations. This was followed by the Ford Ranger (2,377 sales), Peugeot Partner (2,350) and Ford Transit Connect (2,304).

Overall in 2019, the Ford Transit Custom has sold 43,416 units, more than double that of the next best seller, the Ford Transit (21,544). The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is next best seller (19,638), followed by the Volkswagen Transporter (15,243) and Ford Ranger (12,655).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “These figures are unusual as LCV registrations have been growing this year, but the impact of regulatory changes, coupled with ongoing political and economic uncertainty, distorted the market in September. Registrations for the year-to-date are still healthy, however, but for this to be maintained we need stability restored, which should give renewed confidence to businesses to invest in their fleets.”

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.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

Latest articles

Van crime falls in 2019 but still costs victims thousands

The number of vans stolen fell by 5% and thefts from vans dropped by 10% in 2019 – but the average cost of goods stolen is increasing, according to new figures.

Renault releases first details of new Kangoo

Renault has released the first details of its all-new Kangoo van, which boasts a fresh look as well as new infotainment and safety systems.

Ford unveils E-Transit

Fully electric version of the bestselling Transit range claims an estimated range of 217 miles, lower TCO and no compromise on payload.

MAN and Bevan Group team up to provide St John Ambulance vehicles

St John Ambulance is preparing to deploy a new fleet of eight specially designed logistics vehicles that will be used to provide frontline support to the NHS and local communities.

Whitby Morrison buys 55 new Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to make into ice cream vans

Crewe-based ice cream van manufacturer Whitby Morrison has taken delivery of 55 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 314 CDI chassis cabs to build ice cream bodies onto.

Can I get a service or MOT during the new lockdown?

We answer your questions about whether garages, service centres and MOT test stations can remain open during the UK's second lockdown.