March LCV sales up 85.5 per cent, but still below industry expectations
SMMT figures show that the new light commercial vehicle market grew by 85.5 per cent in March with 56,122 vans joining UK roads with the ’21 new number plate. Usually one of the busiest months of the year, March saw the largest-ever increase since the switch to the two plate system in 1999, but one which still represented an -10.9 per cent decrease when compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 average, as prolonged nationwide lockdown continued to suppress business confidence in the first quarter of the year.
Despite all segments experiencing higher demand, total registrations fell a little short of industry expectations as the latest forecast predicted 360,000 LCVs registered by end of the year. Overall, growth was led by an increase in larger van registrations, as vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the majority of the month’s figures, doubling (101.0 per cent) to 36,032 vehicles.
97,356 light commercial vehicles were registered in the first quarter of 2021, up 43.4 per cent on 2020, but down -1.0 per cent when compared to a five-year average taken before the pandemic hit.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said; “Although a marked improvement on last year’s March numbers, these figures illustrate the impact Covid has had on the sector and how far away the van market is from the growth it was enjoying before the pandemic hit. However, as the country emerges from lockdown, vaccinations continue to roll out, and non-essential businesses reopen, the added confidence will hopefully help shift the gears from recovery to growth for the van market.”