Failing to match January 2021’s impressive figures for light commercial vehicles (LCVs), there was a 26.9% decline in January 2022. In more positive news, electric battery vehicles saw a strong 21.4% year-to-date increase, in figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
January Figures Indicate a Increasing Strong Step Forward for the Electrification of the Van Market
Commenting on the bumpy beginning for 2022, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "Despite the slow start, the van market is expected to post another strong year. While chip shortages, rising inflation and increased energy costs will have an impact, growth is still anticipated given the inexorable rise of home deliveries and broader economic recovery.”
Focusing on the figures, The UK LCV market fell by -26.9% to 17,566 registrations in the first month of 2022, whereas in January 2021, the sales reached 23,029 units. While it was the weakest start to a year since 2013, January is typically a fluctuating month due to changing demand for fleet renewal. With January 2021 the best start to the year for 31 years, this was based on new models and compelling deals, which made for a 2.0% increase on pre-pandemic January 2020 sales.
4X4s, although a relatively minor sector, increased by nearly 200% (93 sales in January 2021 against 2766 in January 2022), while all other sectors saw decreases. These decreases include the most biggest sector in terms of volume - vans above 2.5 and up to 3.5 tonnes. The segment represents two-thirds of the market and counted 16.496 units in January 2021 against 11,584 in January 2022 – a 29.8% drop. The biggest drop in terms of percentage points was vans below 2 tonnes, which saw a decline of 53.9%, or 1,231 units in January 2021, against 567 in January 2022.
While diesel remained the dominant fuel type for commercial vehicles, with a 94.3% market share, demand for battery-powered vans grew 21.4% with 647 units registered – 3.7% of the overall market. Although this segment seems small, the SMMT has predicted an enhanced electric van uptake this year as a result of key new model launches. With 81.3% to 23,130 units, this will represent a 6.4% share of the market, which will close to double the final year total for 2021 (3.6% or 12,759 units) and means that around one in 16 new vans will be fully electric by the end of 2022.
SMMT forecasts a 2% Growth for LCV Market in 2022
In good news for the sector, the running total predicted for 2022 stands at 362,620 units, edging out the final total for 2019, which stood at 365,778 units. The prediction is particularly good news, as this comes just 3.5% behind the sector’s strongest year in 2016.
Looking further into the future, 2023 is expected to sustain and maintain growth within the sector, with 387,420 registrations predicted, which would overtake 2019 levels and overtake 2016 levels. Electric van registrations will also be further galvanised with a 57.6% rise, resulting in a market share of 9.4%.
Hawes concluded with what measures he believes will be needed for the market to continue to diversify. “With more battery powered vans coming to market, the demand for these new technologies seen in January is likely to continue across the year. With uptake rates still lagging in the new car market, which has the same end of sale date, the importance of bringing every lever – purchase incentives, fiscal measures and recharging infrastructure investment – to bear on this critical sector is self-evident.”