LCV demand dips ahead of March plate change

row of vans

The new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined in February, falling -4.3% to 13,291 registrations, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The downturn follows an exceptionally strong performance in 2016, when the sector recorded an eight-year high in registrations. 

Reversing the trend seen in previous months, demand for heavier vans fell, with registrations of vehicles weighing 2.5-3.5t down -1.3%. However, the segment continues to be the most popular, accounting for 65.8% of market share. Small vans under 2.0t experienced a decline, falling -28.5%, while pick-up registrations remained the same at 1,350 units. Meanwhile, demand for mid-sized vans grew, with registrations of 2-2.5t vehicles increasing 9.0%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “February is typically a quiet month as buyers look ahead to the March plate change and, following the rapidly growing levels of demand we’ve seen over the past two years, a decline is not unexpected. The sector remains in good health and, barring any shocks to business confidence, we expect demand to remain strong over the coming months.”

Ford saw the highest number of commercials registered with 4,157 vans hitting the road in the month, a market share of 31.28%. The most popular models were the Transit Custom and its larger sister the big Transit, the Mercedes Sprinter was in third position, followed by the Vauxhall Vivaro and the VW Transporter.

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “It is concerning to see how swiftly the new light commercial vehicle market went from the positive results shown over the past few months, to the decline in sales seen in February.

“We hope that in March, sales of light commercial vehicles will come back to the steady growth seen over the last few months.”

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