Slight decline in January LCV sales

The UK’s new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market fell -4.2 per cent in January 2018, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The decline amounts to just 888 fewer vans being driven off forecourts in the first month of the year, compared with 2017.

Car-derived vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes saw a double digit decline, with demand falling by -28.9 per cent against January 2017. Meanwhile, the rest of the market remained steady, with pickups and large vans falling by -2.3 per cent and -1.8 per cent respectively, and medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes registering an uplift of 1.2 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “With business confidence continuing to be affected by economic and political uncertainty, this decline comes as no surprise. Despite this, the UK van market remains at a very high level and, although purchasing patterns are cyclical they do fluctuate with business confidence, so we continue to look to government to improve conditions so the sector can grow.”

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: “Light commercial registrations under 3.5 tonnes were down -4.2 per cent in January – registering 20,475 vehicles in total.

“More importantly, the 2.5 – 3.5 tonne light commercial sector (fleet operational vehicles) recorded a modest decline of just -1.8 per cent, only 225 fewer registrations than in January 2017. This particular sector is very much the barometer of the market, and represents some 62 per cent of all light commercials sold last year. The vehicles are typically sold to the industrial corporate fleet market, and used mainly for delivering packages that have been purchased online by consumers.

“Light vans up to 2.0 tonnes declined significantly by almost -29 per cent. This has been an on-going trend in this sector as many of these vans are used by tradesman, and now many of these smaller businesses are opting for mid-size 2.0-2.5 tonne vans which can carry substantially more in volume. This sector was up 1.2 per cent in January.”

Robinson continued: “Overall, most dealers are confident that the light commercial market will remain buoyant throughout 2018. With the forthcoming introduction of the new Ford Transit Custom, and the newly introduced Mercedes X-range pick-up, plus further upgrades from other manufactures, there is plenty of new product lined up that will bolster sales.”

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