The UK new van market grew for the fourth month in a row in April, with registrations up by almost five percent. That’s according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which says “growing confidence” is set to fuel further growth in the market later this year.

Over the course of last month, some 22,665 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs), including vans and pick-up trucks, weighing up to 3.5 tonnes were registered in the UK. That’s a 4.9-percent increase compared with the same month in 2022, when just over 21,500 such vehicles hit UK roads.

That result takes the total sales for the year past the 100,000 mark, with just under 110,000 new LCVs registered during the first four months of 2023. At the same juncture last year, just under 96,000 LCVs had been registered in the UK.

2019 Vauxhall Vivaro Panel Van

That 14.6-percent uplift has seen the market return closer to pre-pandemic levels, thanks in no small part to the contribution of April’s growth. At the end of March, registrations were 15.1 percent lower than during the same period in 2019, but that figure has fallen slightly to 13.7 percent.

The SMMT says the overall market outlook for the year has been revised upwards compared with the predictions mooted in January. The industry anticipates 326,000 new LCV registrations by the end of the year, which would represent a 15.4-percent increase on 2022’s registrations and a 1.4-percent increase on January’s outlook.

Ford E-Transit European-spec 12

However, the share of battery-electric vehicles has been revised downwards, with an anticipated share of 7.4 percent (down from 8.6 percent). Although electric commercial vehicles are becoming more popular – registrations were up by 62.6 percent in April and 14.8 percent over the first four months of the year – the market share has remained level. Over the first four months of 2023, electric vans made up 5.4 percent of registrations, just as they did in 2022.

The SMMT says this slump is because “operators continue to face challenging conditions with high energy costs, limited incentives and inflationary pressures meaning that the important total cost of ownership calculations are often negative”. The organisation has also highlighted the “paucity” of infrastructure that makes it difficult for commercial vehicle operators to switch from diesel, which fuels 92.5 percent of the vans registered in the first four months of the year.

“Four months of growth signals recovery is in sight for the van market, with easing supply chain issues raising confidence and boosting the overall market outlook,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Ongoing economic uncertainty, however, must be addressed to help sustain and expand EV uptake. To ensure green growth that decarbonises the UK, the ever-growing choice of electric vans delivered by manufacturers must be backed by the right infrastructure and incentives so more businesses can confidently make the switch.”