The global superconductor shortage is not expected to prevent the new van market returning to pre-pandemic levels this year, according to a leading industry body. Forecast registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggest this year’s market will only lag slightly behind 2019 levels.

According to the SMMT, the global semiconductor shortage has seen production and registrations fall, with the organisation’s July data showing the UK light commercial vehicle market was down 14.8 percent compared with the same month in 2020. Across the first seven months of this year, the figures show the market is up 1.1 percent on the 2015-19 average. And it’s up 57.5 percent on the first seven months of last year.

As expected, the numbers confirm vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes still account for the lion’s share of UK light commercial vehicle sales. More than 145,000 of the 215,000 new vans registered between the beginning of January 2021 and the end of July 2021 fell into this category.

Citroen e-Dispatch (2020)

Battling it out for a distant second place are vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes and pick-up trucks. Despite outselling the vans by almost 200 units in July, pick-ups remain the third most popular type of light commercial vehicle in the UK, with 27,329 examples registered during the first seven months of this year. Some 29,339 2-2.5-tonne vans were registered in the same period.

Ford is the most popular van brand in this country, with four of the 10 most popular models built by the Blue Oval. As usual, the Transit Custom has been the most popular vehicle so far this year, with more than 30,000 registered. The larger Transit takes second place, with more than 19,000 sold, while the Volkswagen Transporter is third with over 14,000 sales. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Ranger pick-up truck round out the top five.

Ford Ranger Wolftrak

The SMMT says the market’s strong performance so far this year has put it in good stead, and although supply difficulties remain, the organisation expects sales to be roughly equal to 2019, the year before the pandemic struck. Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the boom in home deliveries and construction should see the sector recover strongly from the coronavirus pandemic.

“While July’s decline in the new van market is disappointing, it must be viewed in context against the semiconductor shortages currently challenging the global industry,” he said. “Given the shift to home-deliveries, the strength of the construction sector and as the economy opens up further, we expect the market to end the year almost back to 2019 levels. Fleet renewal is critical, not only to ensure the newest, cleanest and greenest vans enter UK roads, but to enable the UK to meet its ambitious green targets.”