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Bumper March for LCV in the UK

SMMT LCV March 24

Britain’s new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grows 11.1 per cent to 52,916 units in best March performance for three years

LCV sales in the UK at a three year high according to the SMMT

More than 50,000 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) joined UK roads in a bumper March for fleet renewal as more businesses upgraded to the very latest models than in any other month during the past three years. 52,916 new vans, 4x4s and pickups were registered, up 11.1 per cent as Britons increasingly depend on vans for everything from online shopping to local trades. As a result, the van sector in 2024 delivered its best first quarter for three years, with volumes now just -7.7 per cent below Q1 2019.

Registrations were driven by popular demand for the largest models – those weighing more than 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes – up 16.1 per cent to represent more than two thirds (67.3 per cent) of the market. The biggest percentage increase in uptake was of the smallest vans, up 44.8 per cent to 986 units, while demand for medium-sized vans fell slightly by -3.6 per cent to 8,939 units. Pick-up volumes increased to 5,767, up 0.1 per cent compared with a particularly strong month last year, while demand for the latest 4x4s rose by 29.1 per cent to 1,632 units.

More fleets went green last month than in any other new number plate month to date, with new battery electric vans (BEVs) continuing to rise, up 14.7 per cent to 2,906 units. It means the very greenest vans represented 5.5 per cent of the whole LCV market, but up only slightly from 5.3 per cent in March last year. With manufacturers now mandated to achieve increasingly ambitious proportions of zero emission sales, urgent action is needed to improve the confidence of operators – from large fleets to small businesses and the self-employed – to switch to the growing range of BEV models on offer.

Maintaining existing purchase incentives is essential, but urgent action is also needed to address the concerns of some businesses. This includes tackling charging anxiety by ramping up van-suitable public infrastructure across the UK, from motorways to residential streets, so that operators have full confidence to charge wherever and whenever they need. At the same time, with the cost of VAT on public charging four times higher than private or home charging, this disparity presents another obstacle for businesses planning to transition to a net zero fleet, which is essential if the UK’s world-leading net zero target is to be met.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said; “A strong new plate month with the greatest number of zero emission vans joining UK roads is a bellweather of the sector’s progress, cutting emissions while keeping British businesses on the move. Industry is ready to deliver further, but with green uptake still below mandated levels, swift action is needed to give new van buyers the confidence to go electric. Rapid delivery of van-suitable public charging points and removing the hurdle of taxation on their use are key to greener fleets and a greener future.”


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