Although sales for the UK van market fell by 6% compared to February 2021, the market is ahead of pre-pandemic levels, in figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
February Volatile Month for Sector
To put in greater context February’s drop in van sales for the year beforehand, February 2021 was a strong month, as it recorded an impressive 22% in production due to a pent-up demand across the sector.
February can often be a volatile month for sales, as many operators delay acquisitions until the new number plate in March. Despite the global shortage of semiconductors and rising economic headwinds, including inflation, the market remained 14.6% above pre-pandemic levels, reflecting continued demand from key sectors.
Newly registered large vans, representing two-thirds of the LCV market, totalled 10,638 units, -9.9% down on last February. Medium-sized vehicles weighing greater than 2.0 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes increased by 36.9%. Small vans and pickups decreased by -52.2% and -36.0%, respectively. High demand for 4x4s also continued, increasing by 49.0%, though this remains a fractional segment.
Battery electric vans grew by an unprecedented 347.6% in the month with 1,741 units registered, primarily due to some significant fleet orders, which positively distorted what is traditionally a low volume month.
Year-to-date, LCV registrations are down by -18.2%, although this is compared with 2021's strong start when the construction and home delivery sectors drove demand. SMMT forecasts the LCV market to grow 2.0% overall in 2022, ending the year just shy of pre-pandemic levels and indicating a stabilisating market.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said of the results, “LCV registrations have had a slightly slower start compared to last year’s bumper performance, reflecting the cyclical nature of fleet operator investment, but remain strong.”
Adding that the market is still somewhat uncertain, he concluded, “Global supply shortages and economic headwinds remain a challenge, however, and the sector’s switch to zero-emission vehicles must become mainstream. More electrified models are coming onto the market this year, but we need the chargepoint rollout to accelerate, giving more operators greater confidence to transition to the latest electric vans."