September registrations show LCV growth but market remains in decline

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Registrations for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) surged ahead in September, growing by 26.4% when compared to the same month last year.

The victory is short-lived, however, as September 2019 was a particularly weak month for registrations due to the introduction of regulatory changes that distorted the market.

September 2019 saw the launch of Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and it appears that this affected registrations due to vehicle availability.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggest the September’s result is down by 6.6% on a previous five-year September average.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The sector has shown incredible resilience throughout the ongoing crisis and September’s numbers indicate some confidence is returning as operators seek flexibility and lower operating costs. However, the context of these figures is important as the headline growth belies a very weak September 2019 and is still short of the rolling average.

“From new social distancing restrictions, to job losses as the furlough scheme comes to an end next month, and the ticking clock that is the end of the Brexit transition period, the next quarter holds myriad challenges for the industry.”

A total of 52,096 new vans, pick-ups and 4x4s were registered in September 2020, leaving the market down by 27.4% for the year – a shortfall of 80,000 units on 2019.

In September, nearly all segments saw double digit increases against previous low volumes, with the only exception being small vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes decreasing  by 2.5%, 74 vans fewer than last year.

Registrations of medium vans weighing more than 2.0 tonnes to up to 2.5 tonnes grew 11.6%, while the biggest segment, larger vans weighing more than 2.5 and up to 3.5 tonnes saw the sharpest increase, up by 9,000 units, or 40.9% on September last year.

Ford enjoyed a strong month for sales with a trio of models leading the best-sellers list. The Transit Custom (pictured) was the most popular LCV, followed by the Transit then Ranger. Ford’s Transit Custom also leads the year-to-date ranking with almost twice the registrations of the second-placed Mercedes Sprinter.

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