It is encouraging to see the van market experience an uplift in registrations of over a quarter indicating that a degree of confidence has returned to the sector.
Sales of light commercials grew by 26.4% in September following a weak month last year, when the market was affected by emission regulations changes. A total of 52,096 units were registered in September. Year to date, the market is now down -27.4% from last year with a total of 208,080 vans sold according to the latest SMMT LCV registrations figures.
Most segments showed positive gains with the only exception of light vans under 2.0 tonnes that declined by -2.5%. These are often used by engineers in the service sector where a number of large fleets could be holding back to evaluate whether consumer confidence holds up in the coming months.
Vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes grew by an impressive 40.9%. These vans represent the backbone of the LCV market with around 60% of all LCV sales and are often used for online deliveries.
Despite being small volume segments, 4x4s and pickups experienced considerable growth, with sales up by 30.7% and 10.9% respectively. The increase in purchases of light commercials for leisure purposes has fuelled sales in these segments as the upswing in double cab pick-ups such as the Ford Ranger shows.
In September, Ford dominated the market holding the top three registration positions with the Transit Custom, Big Transit and Ranger Pick-up while Volkswagen was in fourth place with its T6.1 Transporter.
It is positive to see a significant increase in sales of vans between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes as many businesses are replacing and expanding their fleets. Leisure demand continued to support the light van market and this trend is likely to continue as many retail consumers are considering staycation breaks and are buying both new and used mid-size vans for conversion into camper vans.
Dealers remain cautious as supply issues and uncertainty may present challenges over the coming months. It is vital that we continue to monitor the performance of the commercial vehicles market as it represents a key barometer of the overall UK economy.