October van sales down 4.6% as semiconductor shortage continues to cause disruption

Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

Sales of new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) were down by 4.6% in October, marking the second consecutive month of decline.

The shortage of raw materials, including semiconductors, continues to hamper new vehicle supply.

A total of 27,420 vans were registered in October, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures, with larger vans showing the biggest decline.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “While it’s disappointing to see the number of new vans registered during October decline, demand has remained strong  over the course of the year. The commercial vehicle sector, however, is not immune to the challenges faced by the industry as a whole, most notably the semiconductor shortage. Manufacturers are working hard to fulfill orders to ensure fleets can continue to be renewed and the latest models, including zero emission products, hit UK roads.”

Over the course of the month, registrations of heavier vans (2.5+ tonnes) fell by 8.9%. Pickups and vans weighing between 2.0-2.5 tonnes also declined by 16.9% and 16.6% respectively.

Registrations of 4x4s – a typically small market which has been buoyed by new models – and vans weighing less than 2.0-tonnes doubled, with increases of 114.7% and 100.5% respectively.

Despite October representing the second consecutive month of decline – albeit not as steep a fall as in September – the sector remains 2.3% up on the five-year pre-pandemic average for the month of October, with 2021 proving to be a strong year for LCV sales to date.

Year-to-date, registrations of LCVs have increased by 24.4%, to 294,656 units, compared to 2020 when Covid related issues were more widely felt. But, the market still remains 5.2% short of the pre-pandemic five-year average, equating to 16,026 less vans being sold.

As a result of the ongoing challenges facing the sector, SMMT has downgraded it’s outlook for the LCV market by over 20,000, to 340,000 units registered in 2021. While this remains higher than 2020, it represents a net decline against 2019 sales, with the market not expected to recover back above that level until 2023.

Ford remained at the top of the sales charts in October, with the Transit Custom (pictured) and Transit remaining the best selling models.

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