Van registrations continue recovery in June

The light commercial vehicle (LCV) market growth was tempered after a bumper recovery in April and May, with supply issues impacting and helping to inflate prices.

In all, there were 34,363 vans registered in the month, according to the latest figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The month’s performance was down 13.9% on 2019, a shortfall of some 5,566 units as supply shortages – notably of semi-conductors – affected production volumes and caused delays in the market. Nevertheless, van registrations remain up 14.4% on COVID-impacted 2020.

Year-to-date figures were up 75.9% on last year, and up 1.8% on the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 five-year average. In total 191,513 new vans have exchanged hands, meaning that 2021 is currently the third best year for van uptake since records began. Demand for vans was particularly bolstered by operators looking to renew and expand their fleets to meet rising online delivery business and demand from the construction sector.

Demand for larger 2.5-3.5 tonne vans drove the increase in June, comprising the majority (71%) of all registrations in the month, some 24,434 vans – which was largely down to the continuing rise in online deliveries. Other van segments saw drops in demand compared to 2020, with registrations of lighter ‘car derived vans’ weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes down 18.7% and those of vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes down 4.3%. This can be in part explained by their being preferred by service industries, which have been affected more by the pandemic.

Biggest sellers

Continuing the trend throughout the year, the Ford Transit Custom was the biggest selling van in the UK in June, shifting more than 1,000 units more than its nearest competitor, the Ford Transit. The Volkswagen Transporter was the third biggest seller. These three also occupy the top seller spots in the combined year to date sales figures. The Transit Custom has sold 26,978 units this year, nearly 10,000 more than the Transit (17,644), which, in turn, has shifted more than 5,000 units more than the Transporter. The only two other models to sell more than 10,000 units so far this year are the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Vauxhall Vivaro.

In terms of marques, Ford is unsurprisingly the biggest seller in the UK, with 63,179 units sold – 33% of the market. The only other make to corner more than 10% of the market is Volkswagen, with 20,625 sales so far – 10.8% market share. They were followed by Vauxhall, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz and Citroen – these were the only other marques to sell more than 10,000 units so far this year.

At the lower end of the market, new entrants are starting to make impressions on the market. MAXUS – formerly LDV – has sold 774 units this year. While it is only 0.4% of the market, it is growing; 270 units were sold in June, for instance. Major players are also looking at MAXUS and DPD has recently placed a large order with them, which aren’t included in the figures. Likewise, LEVC, which launched its electric VN5 van earlier in the year, has sold 80 units.

Among the 3.5-6t market, Fiat has enjoyed a good first half of 2021, becoming the biggest seller in this weight category, shifting 866 units – 28% of the market – overtaking Mercedes-Benz year-on-year. The German marque cornered 23.5% of the market with 721 units sold. Peugeot and Ford were third and fourth respectively in terms of sales, with 570 and 408 units sold. Volkswagen and Iveco were the only other marques to break the 100 units sold barrier.

Inflating profits

The supply issues are inflating the price of used vans, making it difficult for dealers to evaluate prices to offer for part exchange against a new LCV, according to the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).

“There is a general belief the market could have performed even better, had it not been for the worldwide shortage of semiconductors which is slowing supplies,” said Sue Robinson, chief executive of the NFDA.

“Dealers are confident that the market will remain at high levels, but there are concerns with supply issues and subsequent delays in delivering new vans to customers.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, agreed that semi-conductor supply issues were having an impact, but was also positive about the market. “It’s good to see the van market continue to perform well, with pent up demand, online retail and the construction sectors all on the rise,” he said. “Business confidence is growing and fleets are embarking on decarbonisation programmes. Full market transition, however, still depends on the creation of nationwide charging infrastructure to support society and maintain commercial vehicle momentum.”

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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