The UK new van market benefitted from a pre-Christmas surge in October, growing by more than 13 percent. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show the best part of 28,000 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) weighing up to 3.5 tonnes were registered last month, a record for the tenth month of the year.

That figure was 13.3 percent higher than the 25,373 similar vehicles registered in the same month of 2019. However, the figures are slightly skewed by the fact October 2019 was a weak month for the industry, thanks to ongoing supply issues caused by the switch to the WLTP economy and emissions test.

Most of the growth came from the heavier segments of the LCV market, with registrations for vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes up 26.8 percent last month. In total, almost 20,500 vans of that size hit the roads of the UK, thanks to pent up demand from the first lockdown, growth in the construction sector and new fleet orders coming in ahead of Christmas.

The market for smaller vans grew less substantially, with registrations of new vans weighing less than two tonnes up by 1.6 percent. The market for vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes, meanwhile, grew by 2.9 percent.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the markets for commercial 4x4s and pick-up trucks both saw demand dip. Registrations of new commercial 4x4s were down 33.6 percent, although because that market is always small, that high percentage equates to a less significant 76-unit drop in registrations. That’s less true of the pick-up truck market, which declined by almost 32 percent – a drop the SMMT blamed on “difficulties” faced by the agricultural sector.

2021 Ford Transit Connect

The result still leaves the 2020 van market way behind the levels seen in 2019, with previous months heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. During the first 10 months of the year, 236,833 light commercial vehicles were registered, down 24 percent on the 311,989 registered during the same period in 2019.

“A second month of growth for the van market is testament to the resilience of the sector and society’s reliance on it amidst a difficult year,” said Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive. “However, with a second nationwide lockdown ahead, future performance is difficult to gauge. Industries such as construction and logistics will keep the country moving as they did earlier in the year, but continued uncertainty and closures across retail and hospitality will have an effect on all businesses, and consequently commercial vehicle demand.

Now more than ever, industry needs the assurance of a tariff-free deal with the EU to ensure production and delivery of these essential vehicles continues with no interruption in the difficult months ahead.”

Vauxhall Vivaro-e