The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market enjoyed its best February in a quarter of a century last month, according to new data. Figures released this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed the market grew by 8.5 percent last month with more than 17,500 vehicles registered.

In all, 17,540 new LCVs, including vans and pick-up trucks, hit the roads of the UK last month – a figure not seen since February 1998. It’s also a healthy increase of 8.5 percent compared with the same month in 2022, with growth seen across most different vehicle types.

It’s a particularly strong result for February, which the SMMT describes as a “usually volatile” month thanks to the annual registration plate change on March 1. Nevertheless, the record volume seen last month is the best February performance for the market since the bi-annual plate change was introduced in 1999.

Vauxhall Vivaro-e

As usual, vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes were the most popular light commercial vehicles in the UK, with 12,125 examples registered last month – an increase of 14 percent compared with February 2022. That means seven in every 10 light commercial vehicles registered last month (69 percent) fell into that weight category.

However, greater growth was seen in the pick-up truck market, which grew by 42 percent with 1,563 examples registered in February. The commercial 4x4 market also grew significantly, up by 90.8 percent on the same month in 2022, but with just 145 examples registered, the sector still only accounts for 0.8 percent of all LCVs registered.

Ford Ranger Stormtrak and Ranger Wolftrak

Unsurprisingly, the Ford Transit Custom was the best-selling van on the market, with more than 2,500 examples registered, while the larger Transit and the Vauxhall Vivaro were the only other vans to pass the 1,000-registration mark.

Over the first two months of 2023, overall registrations are up by 17.5 percent compared with the same period last year, with the Transit Custom, Transit and Vivaro are the three most popular vehicles on the market.

“Following a torrid 2022, the UK van market is returning to sustained growth that is exceeding even pre-pandemic levels,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Given the importance of vans to keeping the British economy and society on the move, this growth is good news. With the ZEV market still at a very early stage, however, a concerted effort by all stakeholders to accelerate van-suitable chargepoint installation must become an urgent priority, enabling long-term net zero fleet investment at the scale necessary.”