Registrations for new light commercial vehicles were down by 24.8% in June, leaving the sector 44.6% behind last year’s figures for the first half of the year.
As lockdown measures were eased and businesses returned to work, June’s performance was an improvement on the 74.1% fall in registrations seen in May.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 30,041 new vans and pick-ups joined British roads last month.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Although we are seeing a gradual improvement in demand as the UK starts to get back to business, we are still a long way off normal. The pandemic has stalled all but a few essential businesses, and those restarting now are doing so at reduced pace to ensure safety of their employees and in response to a cautious buyer appetite.
“Restart has been slow, while more uncertainty lies ahead as the UK grapples with business nervousness and potential regional lockdown measures. The industry will do all it can to attract buyers but restoring operator confidence remains the vital next step. A successful restart for the sector will be critical to fleet renewal – and the UK’s long-term green recovery – given the crucial role light commercial vehicles play in urban areas.”
Demand for smaller vans weighing 2.0 tonnes or under dropped by 49.4%, while registrations of medium-sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes and larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes also fell, down 19.1% and 22.8% respectively.
Demand for pickups also continued to decline, with registrations down 26.9%. There was modest growth of 1.1% in the 4x4 segment, as more high-tech, ultra-efficient new models joined the market.
“As van dealerships have now reopened throughout the UK, demand for new and cleaner light commercials is gradually increasing”, said Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK.
“Demand for cheaper, used vans has already increased, this in turn will push buyers to revisit their fleet requirements and consider new commercials as used vans’ prices rise.
“Over the past months, fewer light commercial vehicles have been produced across Europe and with only essential business operations running, most private and business buyers have held back in these uncertain times.
“As countries start to reopen and manufacturers build new commercials, we hope demand will continue to grow, however it is unlikely it will return to normal levels until 2021,” she added.
Ford achieved the highest registrations in the month, with its Transit Custom (pictured) and Transit models sitting at the top of the sales ranking. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter sits in third place, mirroring the year-to-date performance in the sector.