It was encouraging to see that the light commercial vehicle market under 3.5 tonnes only declined by -1.3%, marking the fourth-best performance on record, in what has been an uncertain year.
Overall, the new light commercial vehicle market declined marginally by -1.3% in 2018 with 357,325 registrations, which is less than 5,000 units below 2017’s levels and the fourth highest year on record, according to the latest SMMT’s figures.
Light commercials between 2.5 - 3.5 tonnes, which represent the single biggest segment of the market with 63% of all sales, saw the same number of registrations as in 2017. These vans are a useful barometer of the health of the whole market and, as they are purchased by large corporate fleets, smaller businesses and self-employed tradespeople, this result shows a degree of confidence in business and commerce.
The most positive highlight of the van market in 2018 comes from pick-ups, which now represent the second biggest segment of the market. Sales of pick-ups grew by 4.3% with 53,613 units registered in 2018. The success of these vehicles is mainly due to their versatility as they can be used as open or covered load carriers and they are often able to carry five passengers as double-cabs. These factors make pick-ups popular with service and building trades.
Sales of mid-range vans between 2.0 - 2.5 tonnes decreased by -7.4% in 2018 and smaller vans of less than 2.0 tonnes saw the most significant decline with 4,300 fewer units sold than in the previous year, a drop of -14.7%.
Another key factor that supported the market in 2018 was the introduction of many new models. This trend should continue in 2019 with more new models coming to market and the introduction of electric vans, such as the Ford e-Transit. These will be in high demand especially in metropolitan areas that are introducing low emissions zones.
NFDA and its members are confident the light commercial vehicle market is more resilient than other sectors and will remain stable throughout this year.