UK Van Demand Plummets as Sector Feels Full Force of COVID-19


The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined -86.2% in April as nearly all registrations stopped due to coronavirus lockdowns. According to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), just 3,387 LCVs joined UK roads in April, 21,217 fewer than in the same month last year.

COVID-19 Decimates UK Van Sector

Demand for smaller commercial vehicles was hit badly, with just 271 pickups registered in April, down -91.8%, while vans weighing 2.0 tonnes or less saw a -92.3% decline and registrations of mid-sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell -90.4%. Meanwhile, demand for larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes was down -83.1%, with 2,588 vans delivered to operators, many of them working on the front line of the national crisis. 

With lockdown measures effective across the country since mid-March, performance year-to-date has declined -44.0%, with over 56,000 fewer vehicles registered than in the same period last year. SMMT’s latest forecast expects an overall LCV market decline of -28.0% for 2020, equivalent to a market of 263,000 units by the end of the year. Although registrations are expected to recover in 2021, the expectation is still for a -6.1% decline on 2019, which was a particularly healthy year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “These figures, while not surprising, are still shocking. Restoring business confidence and delivering the safe restart of retail operations will be key to kick-starting demand. Getting this important market moving again will be critical to the wider automotive sector’s recovery and provide a boost to the UK economy as we begin emerge from this crisis.”

The 3,387 vans registered in April were largely made up of orders rushed through to meet demand of industries working on the front line of the coronavirus response, including fleets for the NHS, emergency services, pharmaceutical, food distribution and home delivery services, as the nation grew more reliant on these key businesses.

About the author

Richard Wilson is the deputy editor for Commercial Tyre Business. Since 2015, Richard has worked as a correspondent for all of the titles across the Valebridge Publications Ltd Group namely: Retreading Business, Tyre & Rubber Recycling, The Tyreman and Truck and Bus News. Richard has worked on/off from the age of 16 for the company and whilst gaining a Bachelor's Degree in Spanish and Business Studies at Coventry University, he developed his writing skills at the University paper and more recently writing his own independent blog.


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