New van registrations ‘fall short’ of industry expectations

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There were 56,122 new vans registered in March, according to new figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

That represented an 85.5% uplift compared to March 2020, when the first lockdown was introduced, but volumes are still down by 10.9% compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 average of 63,002 units.

Despite all segments experiencing higher demand, total registrations fell a little short of industry expectations as the latest forecast predicted 360,000 LCVs registered by end of the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT’s chief executive, explained: “Although a marked improvement on last year’s March numbers, these figures illustrate the impact Covid has had on the sector and how far away the van market is from the growth it was enjoying before the pandemic hit.

“However, as the country emerges from lockdown, vaccinations continue to roll out, and non-essential businesses reopen, the added confidence will hopefully help shift the gears from recovery to growth for the van market.”

Overall, growth was led by an increase in larger van registrations, as vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the majority of the month’s figures, doubling (101%) to 36,032 vehicles.

There were 97,356 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered in the first quarter of 2021, up 43.4% on 2020, but down 1.0% when compared to a five-year average taken before the pandemic hit. 

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