“Registrations of light commercial vehicles declined in March as supply constraints and subsequent product shortages continue to have a detrimental impact on the market; these issues are not only affecting automotive, but also other economy sectors, such as the construction industry, whose stability is vital to the van market”, said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), commenting on the latest SMMT’s light commercial vehicle registration figures.
New light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations decreased by -27.6% in March to 40,613 units. Following the fall in the important plate change month of March, the market is now -23.6% below last year.
Large vans weighing more than 2.5 – 3.5 tonnes saw registrations decline by -18.9%. This is a key segment of the market representing more than 70% of all light vans sold in the UK.
Following last month’s growth, the medium-sized van segment (>2.0 – 2.5 tonnes) saw a -27.6% decline. Year to date, this segment, which is a good indicator of the robustness of the service sector, is -11.6% below 2021’s levels.
Looking at the other segments of the market, pickups fell by -48.4% to 4,457 units; small vans experienced a significant decline, down by -70.8% to less than 1,000 units, whilst 4x4s fell by -33.3% although this is the smallest segment in volume terms (446 units).
Positively, sales of battery electric vans rose by 17.7% to 1,909 units. In the first quarter of the year, BEVs are up by an impressive 68.9%.
Ford was the market leader in March with a remarkable 41.9% share. It was followed by Vauxhall (10.4%) and Citroen, Peugeot and Volkswagen with an 8.1% market share each.
Sue Robinson added: “Although this month’s decline is significant and was anticipated due to the ongoing supply constraints, it is important to note that pent-up demand boosted the market last year.
“Product and component shortages have certainly restrained the market in volume as although the sales of battery electric vans were up 17.7% in March, this was still much lower than the growth in previous months, indicating the downturn in product supply.
“External factors will likely impact the market in the short and medium term, but dealers are hopeful the situation will improve going forward”.