Record new van demand driven by plate change offers

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UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations increased by 10.6% to 66,123 units in March, with the record growth fuelled by a rise in demand for medium and large vans, up 17.9% and 13% respectively.

It was the sector’s best ever monthly performance, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Registrations in the month accounted for almost two-thirds of the quarter’s volumes, as business buyers took advantage of new models and strong market incentives.

More than 66,000 new vans and pick-ups hit British roads in March compared with the same month in 2018, an uplift of 6,359 units. Both medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes and large vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes saw double-digit growth, with demand rising by 17.9% and 13% respectively. Registrations of pick-ups also rose, by 6.7%, to more than 11,000. Meanwhile small vans weighing less than 2 tonnes experienced a decline, falling 10.6%.

Ford dominates the new van market, with the month’s best-selling LCV, the Ford Transit Custom, selling almost three times as many vans (11,573) compared to sector’s next best performer, another Ford, the Transit (4,635).

One in six LCVs sold in March was a Ford Transit Custom

In fact, two further Ford LCVs, the Ranger and Transit Connect, also feature in the top 10, collectively accounting for one in three of the LCVs registered in March, some 21,954 units.

The next best-seller was the Volkswagen Transporter, with 3,424 units, followed by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (3,228 units). See the full top 10 below.

Demand for new LCVs up 8.9%

March rounded off a positive quarter for the sector, with demand for new LCVs up 8.9% on the same period in 2018, at 102,743 registrations. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “March is typically the busiest month of the year and it’s great to see large demand for the new 19 plate. While the market does fluctuate with buying cycles, it appears buyers are making the most of the fantastic deals on offer.

“For such exceptional demand to continue long term, however, we need business confidence to improve and that means an end to the political and economic instability besetting the UK.”

Reflecting on the new sales data, Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, told Commercial Fleet that the popularity of 4x4s is a trend that looks set to continue, as users look to “maximise cost-efficiency”, with a working vehicle that can fit into their lifestyle outside of working hours.

He continued: “With the London Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force next week, we’re working with customers to calculate the whole-life-cost benefits if they upgrade to newer, cleaner vehicle technology. Finding cost-effective ways to keep businesses on the road is key to supporting the country’s economy. 

“Although electric vehicle technology continues to evolve, Euro 6 diesels will remain the most practical option for many LCV fleets – and they are exempt from the ULEZ charges. 

“Having said that, for those with relatively low mileage requirements and access to overnight charging, now is the time to consider alternative fuels, and to unlock further in-life savings on things like road tax, maintenance and fuel.”

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