The UK new van market shrank by almost a fifth in October, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The industry body’s data said the 18.4-percent reduction in registrations was down to supply shortages preventing deliveries, rather than a lack of demand.

In total, some 22,386 new vans joined the UK road network, down from more than 27,000 in the same month last year. That means registrations were at their lowest level for October since 2012, and 16.5 percent below the five-year pre-pandemic average for the month.

Because vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes are the most popular, the 7.6-percent decline in their registrations hit the market hard, but registrations of vans weighing less than two tonnes were down by an even more impactful 80.7 percent. And sales of vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes were down by more than half.

2020 Mercedes-Benz Vito and eVito

However, the news was not all bad. Registrations of pick-up trucks grew for the first time in 2022, up by more than a quarter compared with the same month in 2021. And sales of commercial 4x4s also increased, up by 18.3 percent. But such segments are small fry in this market, with pick-up trucks accounting for just over 10 percent of the total registrations.

And sales of battery-electric vans were up too, with more than 1,700 new electric vans arriving on UK roads last month. That’s up from just over 1,100 in the same month last year, and an increase of more than 50 percent. As a result, electric vans made up 7.6 percent of all new registrations last month.

Opel Vivaro-e (2020)

So far this year, the van market is down by around a fifth compared with 2021. The first 10 months of 2022 have seen 235,962 new vans hit the road, compared with almost 295,000 during the same period last year.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said supply issues were to blame for the performance, but said the market was expected to pick up next year.

“The UK’s van market continues to be shackled by supply shortages amid difficult operating conditions, which will likely continue into 2023, easing over the course of the year,” he said. “Demand for zero-emission vans remains robust despite these challenges, but a successful net zero transition will require measures targeted at long-term operator confidence.”