It was encouraging to see that UK light commercial vehicle sales were up 5% in August, indicating that business confidence is returning to the market as the SMMT’s light commercial vehicle registration figures show.
The most significant growth came from the 2.5 – 3.5t sector which represents 67% of light commercials registered. This particular sector of vans are used primarily by professional operators for transport and delivery needs, showing confidence in the domestic home-delivery and the service sectors.
Lighter vans and mid-size vans 2.0 -2.5t suffered a surprising decline of -29.7%, and some of this short-fall in August could be down to buyers opting for heavier vans to optimise load capacity. Year-to-date the sector is down -3.9%.
As in previous months, pick-ups - particularly the double-cabs that nearly every manufacturer offers as a derivative, has shown continuous growth and was up 21.4% in August. Many of these vehicles are often bought by self-employed people as a cross-over vehicle that is a tax efficient way of having a passenger carrying commercial vehicle that can be used for both business and domestic use.
It is worth noting that Ford is now able to fulfil orders for the new revised Transit Custom, and Mercedes has also introduced their new Sprinter range which has helped the August market grow. These two brand models sold higher volumes than any of their competitors.
Factors such as road tax changes or the introduced Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) emission standards for cars is not due to affect commercial vehicles of this size until September 2019. It is anticipated that September vans sales will continue at the same level.