The UK new van market has recorded strong sales in the first half of 2021, despite supply issues impacting sales in June. That’s according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which says van sales are at their third-highest level ever recorded during the first six months of a year.

Between January 1 and June 30 this year, SMMT figures show 191,513 new light commercial vehicles, including vans, pick-up trucks and commercial 4x4s, were registered. That’s an increase of 75.9 percent on the Covid-hit first half of last year.

Perhaps more significantly, that figure also represented a 1.8-percent increase on the average for the five years from 2015 to 2019. That performance means 2021 is currently the third-best year for van sales since records began. According to the SMMT, that increase was “bolstered” by operators looking to renew and expand their fleets to meet “rising online delivery business and demand from the construction sector”.

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However, the news for June itself was slightly less positive. The shortage of semiconductors meant a total of 34,363 new light commercial vehicles were registered, up 14.4 percent on 2020 but down 13.9 percent on 2019.

As usual, vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes took the lion’s share of sales, making up 71 percent of all new vans registered. Vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes were the second-biggest sellers, at 12.5 percent of the market, while pick-up trucks represented 11.2 percent of all sales. Those three classes of vehicle alone made up almost 95 percent of all light commercial vehicle sales.

The news comes after a positive period for the new van market, which has recovered from the pandemic with relative ease. With businesses banking on increased online shopping and deliveries, the market has returned to – and in some cases outstripped – pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s good to see the van market continue to perform well, with pent up demand, online retail and the construction sectors all on the rise,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Semiconductor supply issues have extended lead times, but business confidence is growing and fleets are embarking on decarbonisation programmes. Full market transition, however, still depends on the creation of nationwide charging infrastructure to support society and maintain commercial vehicle momentum.”

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