Van sales boom in August ahead of new emissions rules

More than 1,700 variants of the Sprinter are available

Van sales soared by 41% in August, according to the latest SMMT figures.

The market has grown every month in 2019 – growing by 11% - in stark contrast to the new car market, which is down by -3.4% year-to-date.

More than 23,000 new LCVs were registered in August, with the largest volume in the 2.5t-3.5t category.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Another month of growth for the new van market is welcome news for the automotive sector as it faces multiple challenges simultaneously. It is important to remember, however, that any percentage increase will be on a much smaller volume market in August given it is arguably the quietest month of the year. Buyers continue to take advantage of deals on the latest and cleanest commercial vehicles on the market and it is important the business environment remains strong.”

The strong performance mirrors that of the car sector last year, which resulted from a change in the emissions regulations for new cars. The same changes are coming into effect in the van sector, meaning businesses have been keen to get vehicles registered before the new regulations take effect.

The new, more accurate emissions test, the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), began being phased in for vans two years ago.

All new car-derived vans (Class 1 up to 1,305kgs) have been tested under WLTP rules since September 2017, while all newly registered Class 1 vans have undergone the test since September 2018.

All new types of heavier vans (N1 Class 2, 1,305-1,760kgs, and Class 3 above 1,760kgs) have also had to be tested under WLTP since September, last year, while all newly registered vans in this category will have to be measured against WLTP from this September, with converted vehicles requiring their own individual WLTP CO2 value. 

WLTP tested vehicles also have an ‘NEDC-b’ CO2 figure applied for tax purposes, similar to the NEDC-correlated figure used for cars. This figure will be used until April 2021, when WLTP values take effect for tax purposes.

Best-selling vans

Mercedes-Benz took the lead in August with its Sprinter model achieveing the highest sales in the month.

The Ford Transit Custom, which is the best selling model year-to-date, dropped to second place in August followed by its larger stablemate the Ford Transit.

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