The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market remained above pre-pandemic levels in February, despite a slight reduction in sales. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the market shrank by six percent compared with the same month last year, with just over 16,000 new vehicles registered.

That six percent drop is a little misleading, because February 2021 saw pent-up demand fuel market growth of 22 percent compared with pre-pandemic 2020, making it something of a bumper month for the industry. As a result, a six-percent reduction has not been too badly received by the SMMT.

According to the organisation, which represents the UK’s vehicle makers and dealers, the market is still 14.6 percent above the level seen in February 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic struck in earnest. As a result, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes welcomed the results, lauding the strength of the sector despite ongoing supply and infrastructure issues.

2021 Vauxhall Combo-e

“LCV registrations have had a slightly slower start compared to last year’s bumper performance, reflecting the cyclical nature of fleet operator investment, but remain strong. Global supply shortages and economic headwinds remain a challenge, however, and the sector’s switch to zero emission vehicles must become mainstream. More electrified models are coming onto the market this year but we need the chargepoint rollout to accelerate, giving more operators greater confidence to transition to the latest electric vans.”

The light commercial vehicle market includes all manner of vehicles weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, including pick-up trucks, commercial 4x4s and varying sizes of van. As usual, vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes took the lion’s share of new registrations, accounting for just under two-thirds (65.8 percent) of the market as a whole, despite seeing sales fall by just under 10 percent.

Vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes were the second most popular vehicles on the market, but they accounted for just under a quarter of all sales (24.9 percent). That came after the segment grew by more than a third compared with the same month in 2021.

Pick-up trucks were the third most in-demand type of vehicle, but even they made up just under seven percent of the market as a whole. With dwindling numbers of vehicles on sale, they saw registrations fall by 36 percent in February, compared with the same month last year.

Ford Transit five-tonne panel van and chassis cab