The UK new van market shrank by more than a fifth in November, according to new figures from a leading industry body. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data showed more than 24,000 new light commercial vehicles (including vans and pick-up trucks) were registered last month.

That figure represented a 22.2-percent reduction compared with the 11th month of 2021 as November registrations fell to their lowest level since 2013. Although the SMMT said the decline was “artificially inflated” because November 2021 was the best November ever for the industry, registrations remain around 14 percent lower than the five-year pre-pandemic average for the month.

Overall, 24,352 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) weighing up to 3.5 tonnes were registered last month, with pick-up trucks, vans and even commercial 4x4s contributing to the total. As usual, the most popular type of LCV on the market was light vans weighing between 2.5-3.5 tonnes. Those vehicles, which include the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, accounted for more than 18,000 of the total registrations, or roughly three-quarters of the total.

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That result came despite a 17.7-percent reduction in registrations of those vans, while lighter van registrations fared no better. However, sales of pick-up trucks – the third most popular type of LCV on the market – increased by more than a quarter in November.

Over the first 11 months of 2022, the market has declined noticeably, suffering partly because of strong registrations in 2021. More than 260,000 new LCVs were registered in the UK between the beginning of January and the end of November, but that’s a reduction of just over 20 percent compared with the same period last year. Registrations were down among every single category of vehicle.

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Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the market was battling challenges including supply shortages, but suggested the market may face fewer difficulties in 2023. Nevertheless, he called on the government to help support electric vehicles and provide a further boost to the sector.

“The UK van market has experienced a very difficult year, battling a multitude of challenges to meet demand, but has benefitted from an EV boost as operators increasingly make the switch to zero emission,” said Hawes. “As supply constraints ease, we look with some optimism towards next year and a return to growth. It is imperative, however, that the government takes action to help accelerate commercial vehicle recharging infrastructure, so that the vehicles that keep Britain moving can fully deliver on their ability to boost the economy.”