Van registrations set October record

Sales rally ahead of second lockdown for England

Registrations for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the UK were up more than 13% year-on-year in October, with record numbers registered in the month, latest figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that 28,753 vans, pickups and 4x4s were registered in the month, following a weaker than usual October 2019 when the market was impacted by ongoing supply challenges around WLTP approved vehicles.

The heavier end of the LCV market was the main driver of the growth in registrations, with vans weighing more than 2.5 and up to 3.5 tonnes up 27% to 20,492 units. A combination of pent up demand from the UK’s first lockdown, growth in the construction sector and new fleet orders coming in ahead of an anticipated busy Christmas period kept van deliveries high in the month.

Continuing the trend, registrations for smaller vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes and medium vans weighing more than 2.0 tonnes and up to 2.5 tonnes both grew. However, 4x4s and pickups both saw a dip in demand, with registrations down 34% and 32% respectively, in part reflecting difficulties faced by the agriculture sector.

However, despite the growth in this month, which built on the uptick in September, year-to-date registrations are still down 24% on 2019, with the sector yet to make up a shortfall of around 75,000 units, which was in large part down to registrations plummeting during the first lockdown earlier in the year. With a second lockdown beginning today [November 5] and lasting at least a month, 2019’s performance will be impossible to match.

In terms of individual models, the top sellers followed the trend of 2020 – indeed, the top five sellers of the month are the top five sellers of the year. The Ford Transit Custom had most units registered (3,773), followed by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2,475 units), Ford Transit (2,135), Vauxhall Vivaro (1,923) and Volkswagen Transporter (1,899).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “A second month of growth for the van market is testament to the resilience of the sector and society’s reliance on it amidst a difficult year. However, with a second nationwide lockdown ahead, future performance is difficult to gauge.

“Industries such as construction and logistics will keep the country moving as they did earlier in the year, but continued uncertainty and closures across retail and hospitality will have an effect on all businesses, and consequently commercial vehicle demand.”

Hawes also renewed his call for the government to agree a tariff-free deal with the EU ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period on 1 January 2021: “To ensure production and delivery of these essential vehicles continues with no interruption in the difficult months ahead.”

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.

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