The UK new van market shrank by more than a fifth in 2022 amid ongoing supply issues, according to new figures. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a fall in registrations, which the organisation blamed on “supply chain disruptions and wider economic malaise”.

In total, some 282,000 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) weighing up to 3.5 tonnes were registered in 2022, down 20.6 percent compared with the year before. That figure also represents a 22.9-percent reduction compared with 2019, the last full year before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and it’s the lowest total for a single year since 2013.

No one part of the market bore the brunt of the drop, with registrations down across the board. The 2.5-3.5-tonne van market, which accounts for roughly three quarters of the total LCV market, was among the most resilient, with sales down by a mere 14.4 percent as a total of 208,728 vehicles in that category were registered.

2019 Toyota Land Cruiser Utility Commercial

The only sector of the market to outperform those larger vans was the commercial 4x4 category, but that is a tiny fraction of the market overall. As a result, a 13.6-percent drop in registrations meant just 3,541 such vehicles were registered in 2022.

Elsewhere in the sector, pick-up truck sales were down by 30.4 percent, dropping them below the 30,000-unit mark, while registrations of 2-2.5-tonne vans were down by a similar proportion. But registrations of light vans weighing less than two tonnes were down by an even more significant 56.1 percent, with fewer than 8,000 such vehicles hitting the road.

That said, demand for battery-electric vans grew in 2022, with deliveries up 31.2 percent. That meant a total of 16,744 electric vans hit the roads of the UK last year, taking the market share to around six percent.

Despite the news, the SMMT is expecting the market to bounce back in 2023, with around 330,000 new van registrations. That would still be a reduction compared with the levels seen in 2019 and 2021, but it would be a noticeable improvement on last year’s performance.

“While demand for new vans remained robust throughout 2022, replicating last year’s high levels of fleet renewal was always going to be a challenge with relentless supply chain disruptions and wider economic malaise,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “A return to growth is expected in 2023, but if this crucial sector is to deliver for the economy, society and the environment, action is needed from all stakeholders, particularly in the areas of charging infrastructure and fiscal frameworks, enabling more van buyers to make the switch.”

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