The market for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs), including vans and pick-up trucks, got off to a slow start in the UK during January. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said just over 17,500 LCVs were registered last month, but strong sales are expected throughout 2022.

According to the SMMT’s figures, the 17,556 vehicles sold in January represented a 26.9-percent decline compared with the same month last year. The figure also represented the weakest start to a year since 2013.

However, the organisation says January 2021 was a “bumper” month for the sector, when an influx of new models saw the market grow compared with pre-pandemic January 2020. And because the SMMT says January is often a “volatile” month for sales thanks to “the intermittent nature of fleet renewal”, it claims this result shouldn’t prevent the market from staying strong across the whole of this year.

2021 Ford Transit Connect

As usual, the strongest sector of the market proved to be the vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, with more than 11,500 such vehicles registered. In fact, vans in that category accounted for almost two-thirds (65 percent) of the overall market.

The next-largest part of the market – vans weighing between two tonnes and 2.5 tonnes – accounted for just over 3,000 registrations, or 17 percent of the market overall. Pick-up trucks rounded out the top three sectors, with 2,106 examples registered in January to leave the utility vehicles with a market share of around 12 percent.

Ford Ranger Stormtrak and Ranger Wolftrak

As normal, the van market was dominated by diesel vehicles, which made up 94.3 percent of all the light commercial vehicles sold on UK shores last month. However, demand for battery-powered vans grew by 21.4 percent, leaving them with a 3.7-percent share of the market as a whole.

The SMMT says electric van uptake is predicted to climb significantly this year as manufacturers launch a raft of new models. The organisation’s estimates suggest around 23,000 new battery-powered vans will be sold this year – a figure expected to account for around 6.4 percent of the market.

“Despite the slow start, the van market is expected to post another strong year,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “While chip shortages, rising inflation and increased energy costs will have an impact, growth is still anticipated given the inexorable rise of home deliveries and broader economic recovery.

“With more battery powered vans coming to market, the demand for these new technologies seen in January is likely to continue across the year. With uptake rates still lagging the new car market, which has the same end of sale date, the importance of bringing every lever – purchase incentives, fiscal measures and recharging infrastructure investment – to bear on this critical sector is self-evident.”