Sales of new vans and pick-ups were down by 6% in February, as the commercial vehicle sector continued to feel the effect of the semiconductor shortage.
A total of 16,165 light commercials were sold during the month, which is historically known for small volumes due to the plate change in March.
Year-to-date, LCV registrations are down by 18.2%, although this is compared with a strong start to 2021, when the construction and home delivery sectors were significant drivers of demand
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “LCV registrations have had a slightly slower start compared to last year’s bumper performance, reflecting the cyclical nature of fleet operator investment, but remain strong.
“Global supply shortages and economic headwinds remain a challenge, however, and the sector’s switch to zero emission vehicles must become mainstream. More electrified models are coming onto the market this year but we need the chargepoint rollout to accelerate, giving more operators greater confidence to transition to the latest electric vans.”
Despite the market challenges, registrations are 14.6% above pre-pandemic levels.
Newly registered large vans, which represent two thirds of the LCV market, totalled 10,638 units in February, 9.9% down on last February, but medium-sized vehicles weighing more than 2.0 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes, increased by 36.9%. Small vans and pickups decreased by 52.2% and 36.0% respectively, while high demand for 4x4s continued, increasing by 49.0%, according to the latest SMMT figures.
Demand for battery electric vans grew by 347.6% in the month with 1,741 units registered, primarily as a result of some significant fleet orders.
The SMMT says overall uptake of electric vans remains “some distance” behind passenger cars, however, and it is “vital that investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure gives confidence to businesses and self-employed van operators across the UK to make the switch.”
It forecasts the LCV market to grow 2.0% overall in 2022, ending the year just shy of pre-pandemic levels and indicating a stabilisation of the market.
The Ford Transit Custom retained its place as the UK's best-selling van in February, amassing 2,647 registrations during the month.