There were 30,440 new vans registered in April, the highest-ever total for the month since records began, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
All vehicle segments saw artificially inflated growth rates relative to April 2020, when the first lockdown was introduced. However, registrations were also well ahead of the five-year average, with April 2021 up by 23.2%.
There have been 127,796 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered so far in 2021, with uptake returning to levels last seen in 2019.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Businesses are investing in new vehicles as they grow in confidence, driven by a more positive economic outlook stimulated by the vaccine rollout.
“There has been particular uplift in larger van uptake, both from established demand in home delivery, but also more broadly as other sectors emerge from lockdown looking to maximise their payload efficiency.
“With a fragile supply chain still subject to risk of disruption and ongoing Covid restrictions, there is some way to go before we can say business is back to normal, but after a very difficult year, the outlook is much brighter.”
Vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes accounted for 20,037 registrations. So far in 2021, heavy van registrations have almost doubled compared to the same period in 2020, up to 84,374 compared with 42,749 recorded in the first four months of last year.
As a result, SMMT’s latest outlook for the sector forecasts that around 369,000 vans will be registered in 2021.
Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, says that it is “extremely positive” to see LCV registrations rebound in April.
She added: “Although most UK commercial dealers are confident that demand will continue as confidence in the economy increases, there are concerns over supply due to ongoing Covid related issues at factories around Europe and the worldwide shortage of semiconductors.”
The Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) has warned that an emerging shortage of semiconductors risks disrupting global van production.
It comes as Aston Barclay says that prices for used vans are expected to rise in the coming weeks as new vehicle supply is affected by the global semiconductor crisis.