Registrations of light commercial vehicles up to 3.5t grew in December, closing 2021 well above 2020’s levels and only marginally below the pre-pandemic market.
Sales of light commercials rose both in December by 7.8% and throughout 2021, by a staggering 21.4%, despite the challenges that faced the sector last year according to the latest SMMT's light commercial vehicle registration figures.
Due to the challenges at the start of 2021, including covid-related restrictions and constraints in the supply chain, such as the semiconductors’ shortage, there was uncertainty. As a result, it is great news that December's LCV registrations were up by 7.8% compared to the same month last year and the whole year showed a staggering growth of 21.4% for light commercials under 3.5 tonnes.
In real terms, this means that, in 2021, 62,723 more LCVs went on the road than the previous year, showing only a marginal decrease of -2.8% from 2019. Overall light-commercial registrations for 2021 were 355,380 units, a performance which is only slightly weaker than the five-year pre-Covid average (-3.0%).
Strong demand for new products came from the construction and home delivery sectors, where businesses have been renewing their fleets. This also drove sales of zero-emission vans, primarily due to the introduction of clean-air zones around the country. A total of 12,759 EV vans were registered in the year, giving an increased 3.59% market share.
Throughout the year, demand in different LCV sectors varied, with the heaviest 2.5 – 3.5t vehicles, that account for over two-thirds of all light-commercials sold, growing by a massive 27.8%. The mid-range sector 2.0 - 2.5t fared less well with a minor decline of -0.8%, while the smallest vans, which are often car-based, rose by a modest 3.6%.
Over the years, the pick-up market has continued to grow although it remains a small segment; in 2021, the trend continued, with an increase from 35,691 units to 42,488 registrations. This growth of 19% was likely driven by the increased activity in the building industry as a large proportion of these pickups are bought by self-employed craftspeople.
As expected, Ford was the dominant supplier of LCVs in the year with 121,465 new units registered, over a third of the total UK market. Vauxhall came second with 34,344 sales compared, followed closely by Volkswagen commercials that registered 34,182 LCVs in 2021.
Dealers have continued to be positive about the market in 2021. Issues around the pandemic and volatility over component shortages that threaten supply will still affect market opportunities this year, however, there is understandable confidence that demand will stay strong throughout 2022.