UK new van registrations were down by almost a third in April amid the ongoing global semiconductor shortage. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed sales were down 29.1 percent last month – a drop blamed partly on the continuing supply chain issues.

In April, a total of 21,597 light commercial vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes were registered in the UK – down from 30,440 in the same month last year. However, the SMMT says the difference is exaggerated by the peculiar circumstances of April 2021, which was a record month for sales following the end of lockdown restrictions.

However, the SMMT’s data shows registrations last month were still 12.2 percent lower than the April of pre-pandemic 2019. The organisation has laid the blame for the below-par performance at the door of supply problems including the global semiconductor shortage, which means manufacturers are struggling to source all-important microchips.

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Large vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes continue to take the lion’s share of sales, with 16,212 examples sold last month. Those vehicles made up three-quarters (75 percent) of the new van market, despite total registrations dropping by almost 20 percent compared with a year ago.

That enormous market share was partly down to a huge reduction in the number of smaller 2-2.5-tonne vans registered, with sales down by more than 48 percent. At the same time, sales of small vans weighing less than two tonnes were also down by 48 percent, while pick-up truck registrations were down by 77.8 percent.

Over the first four months of 2022, almost 96,000 new light commercial vehicles have been sold in the UK, down from almost 128,000 during the same period last year. That’s a drop of more than 25 percent.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the results meant the number of vehicles sold in 2022 would likely be down compared with 2021.

“Despite the global supply pressures on the UK’s light commercial vehicle sector, manufacturers are prioritising the most popular models, while investing in electric options where demand is slowly but steadily growing,” he said. “Constrained supply, however, does mean that 2022’s new van market is expected to be down on last year’s bumper uptake.

“Even so, while market conditions remain challenging for van operators across the UK, now is the time for those looking to renew their fleets to put their orders in, as interest rates remain historically low and an increasing range of fuel efficient and electrified models are now available.”

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