The UK new van market was down by almost a quarter during the first half of 2022, according to new figures out this week. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows sales of light commercial vehicles (LCVs), including vans and pick-up trucks, fell by 24.6 percent over the first six months of the year.
In total, 144,384 new LCVs were registered between January 1 and June 30, down from more than 190,000 during the same period last year. The result is the product of six months of consistent decline in the sector, with registrations down every month so far this year. In June, LCV registrations were down by 23 percent, with fewer than 21,000 new vehicles hitting the roads of the UK.
However, the SMMT says the poor showing is “exacerbated” by comparison with 2021, which saw the third-best start to a year on record, because of pent-up demand for online delivery vehicles and a bounce-back in the construction sector. The organisation says demand for new LCVs has been “robust” this year, but ongoing component shortages have “impacted deliveries and lead times”. As a result, registrations remain 26.5 percent below the level seen at the halfway point in pre-pandemic 2019.
As usual, the lion’s share of registrations have gone to vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes. Of the 144,000 vehicles registered in the first half of the year, more than 100,000 (72 percent) fell into this category. Vans weighing 2-2.5 tonnes were the second most popular option, with almost 20,000 examples registered, while pick-up trucks took third place with just under 15,000 registrations.
Ford has dominated the sales charts this year, building three of the five most popular LCVs in the UK. The Transit Custom van took top spot, with more than 24,000 examples registered, while the larger Transit took second with almost 18,000 registrations. The Ranger was the other Ford product in the top five, snaffling fifth place with more than 7,600 registrations.
Demand for electric vans grew significantly, with registrations up by 60 percent compared with the same period in 2021. However, a total of just 8,100 were registered, meaning electric vehicles still account for a tiny fraction of the LCVs sold in the UK. As a result, the SMMT has called on the government to improve infrastructure to support businesses who want to switch into electric vans.
“The impact of the global shortage of semiconductors is severe, constraining supplies and extending lead times for commercial vehicles,” said the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes. “While electric vehicle registrations are growing in response to an ever wider choice of plug-in models, a successful transition means accelerating uptake at pace, and this task could not come at a more difficult time. With inflation and energy costs hitting the pockets of UK van buyers, as well as the industry, operators need to be assured that charging infrastructure can meet their needs and that fiscal and grant incentives are in place for the long term.”