UK Van Market Sees Another Consecutive Monthly Decline


The light commercial vehicle market has declined for another month with a 4.6% drop. With 27,420 registrations this month, there was a higher-than-usual uptake of 4x4s and vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes, with the market doubling by 114.7% and 100.5% respectively in October. In general, however, the market is still suffering from semi-conductor shortages, in figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Van Market Remains Above 2020 Year-to-Date Levels

The light commercial vehicle market declined marginally by -4.6%, in October, with 27,420 vans registered. Despite a second consecutive month of decline, the sector remains 2.3% up on the five-year pre-pandemic average for the month of October, with 2021 proving to be a strong year for light commercial vehicle sales to date.

Over the course of the month registrations of heavier vans, which weigh more than 2.5 tonnes and comprise the majority of the light commercial vehicle market, fell by -8.9%. Pickups and vans weighing between 2.0-2.5 tonnes also declined by -16.9% and -16.6% respectively. There was some good news, however, with registrations of 4x4s – a typically small market which has been buoyed by new models – and vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes doubling, with increases of 114.7% and 100.5% respectively.

Year-to-date, registrations of light commercial vehicles have increased by 24.4%, to 294,656 units, compared to 2020 when Covid dominated the market. However, the sector is still -5.2% short of the pre-pandemic five-year average, equating to 16,026 fewer vans being sold, primarily due to the global shortage of semiconductors.

SMMT Reduces 2021 Prediction of Total Sales for Vans, Citing Ongoing Challenges

As a result of a market in flux, SMMT has downgraded its outlook for the light commercial vehicles market by over 20,000, to 340,000 units registered in 2021. While this remains higher than 2020, it represents a net decline against 2019 sales, with the market not expected to recover back above that level until 2023.

Mike Hawkes, SMMT Chief Executive concluded: “While it’s disappointing to see the number of new vans registered during October decline, demand has remained strong over the course of the year. The commercial vehicle sector, however, is not immune to the challenges faced by the industry as a whole, most notably the semiconductor shortage. Manufacturers are working hard to fulfil orders to ensure fleets can continue to be renewed and the latest models, including zero-emission products, hit UK roads.”

About the author

Adrian, located in Madrid, is joining the editorial team as a correspondent for the Valebridge Publications Ltd Group. Before starting in 2020 for Commercial Tyre Business, Adrian graduated with an English degree before working within marketing and recruitment in the non-profit sector. Recently he changed direction, undertaking a course in Marketing and International Business as a means towards moving into the journalism field, which he counts as his lifelong ambition.


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