The UK new van market enjoyed its best November ever, with more than 31,000 new light commercial vehicles registered. The figures, which were released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), are in stark contrast to the new car market, which is struggling in light of the global chip shortage.

With 31,320 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) hitting the road, the market was up by almost 10 percent compared with November 2020, and 11.4 percent up on the pre-pandemic average for the month. That’s in spite of the global semiconductor shortage, which has impacted production for manufacturers worldwide.

That shortage has seen UK output crumble, both in the new car market and among commercial vehicle producers, and it’s the same story elsewhere in Europe. The SMMT said the shortage was also partly to blame for new car registrations languishing around a third below the pre-pandemic average in November.

Ford Transit five-tonne panel van and chassis cab

Growth was recorded across the sector, with the most popular class of LCV – vehicles weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes – seeing registrations rise by 7.7 percent. As a result, that sector of the market accounted for more than 71 percent of all the light commercial vehicles registered in the UK last month.

However, just one type of LCV saw registrations fall: the sub-two-tonne market, which crumbled by 19 percent in November. But every other sector of the market, aside from the 2.5-to-3.5-tonne vehicles, saw double-digit growth.

2021 Ford Transit Connect

That meant the first 11 months of 2021 saw registrations rise past the 325,000 mark. That’s a 22.8-percent increase compared with the first 11 months of 2020, with the most significant growth seen in the 2.5-3.5-tonne segment (up 29.8 percent) and the commercial 4x4 segment, which is up 185.8 percent. However, that’s a small sector of the market, accounting for around one percent of all registrations.

“A pre-Christmas boost to van registrations will be welcomed by the industry, but it remains a rollercoaster of a market,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“Demand is clearly robust, but market volatility is likely to remain a feature as supply chain shortages throttle the sector’s ability to fulfil orders. Manufacturers are working hard to try and overcome these shortages and the November deliveries illustrate the success they have been having in the UK. Whilst the outlook remains challenging, customers can be reassured of the industry commitment to the commercial vehicle sector, given its importance to the operation of society and business growth.”