SMMT figures show that the new van market finished the first three months of the year on a high, with a 3.3 per cent uplift in demand in March. The 63,913 registrations made in the month represented some two thirds of the quarter’s total volume, with 98,906 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) hitting British roads in the year to date – up 1.2 per cent on the same period in 2015.
The trend towards heavier vehicles continued, with a substantial 14.2 per cent rise in the 2.5-3.5T segment last month, counteracting a decline in registrations of vans weighing less than 2.5T. The 3.5-6T truck sector saw registrations fall slightly by 1.9 per cent, while demand for pickups showed a 5.3 per cent gain in March.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Traditionally one of the busiest months of the year for the new British van market, March’s new 16 plate gave a welcome boost, closing the first quarter on a positive note after a more subdued start to the year. Following the sector’s record performance set in 2015, we expect to see steadier growth over the coming months.”
Commenting on the figures, Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association which represents commercial vehicle and franchised car retailers across the UK, said “The most significant growth came from the 2.5 – 3.5T sector. These vehicles are typically purchased by corporate businesses – showing continued confidence in commerce in the industry.
“With the exception of these heavy vans and the pick-up market, all other sectors showed a decline that could indicate potential future concerns over the strength of the economy for the private and self-employed tradesmen buyers.
“In 2015 the van market was exceedingly strong posting gains in almost all sectors with continuous growth in online sales and the need for local deliveries.
“March marked the month for the new 16-plate change. This year the first quarter has shown a 1.2 per cent growth over the same period last year, indicating the market is still strong”.