UK light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations fell by 74.1% in May, despite demand for vans from key worker fleets.
In total, 7,541 LCVs were sold in the month, with the majority to fleets running food distribution, home delivery, utilities, broadband and emergency services operations.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a larger drop in demand for smaller commercial vehicles, with just 741 pickups and 26 4x4s registered in May.
Vans weighing 2.0 tonnes or less saw an 84.0% decline and registrations of mid-sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell 78.7%. Larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the bulk of registrations but still saw a decline of 70.4%.
As lockdown has continued for more than two out of the first five months of the year, performance year-to-date has declined by 49.6%, with almost half the number of vehicles registered than in the same period last year.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While slightly better than April, these figures are still extremely worrying. As more businesses re-open, we are seeing a gradual uptick in fleet renewal orders. However, restoring operator confidence to ensure they continue to invest in their fleets is the only way to get more of the latest, cleanest commercial vehicles on our roads. This will be critical not just to the economy but to the resumption of normality for business and society which depends on this sector.”
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised commercial vehicle and car retailers across the UK, said: “As dealerships reopen and demand improves, supply could become an issue as many of these vehicles are built in the EU and the return to production varies across countries.
“The market will gradually recover as many fleets and operators are aware of the need for environmentally friendly light commercials as ‘clean air zones’ are reintroduced, and many consumers have become more comfortable with online purchases during the lockdown.”
Ford's Transit Custom retained the number one spot for the most registrations in May, with 903 registered. It was clodely followed by the Mercedes Sprinter (899), popular model with grocery delivery fleets.