New van registrations grew by 10.8% in September, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The plate change month delivered growth in the sector for the first time this year, with 34,950 vehicles registered.
The performance is, however, artificially inflated in comparison with 2021, which saw the fewest registrations for the month since the 2009 recession.
The SMMT said this September still some 35.5% below the five-year pre-pandemic average.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While the full recovery of Britain’s new van market remains some way off, September growth reflects van makers’ efforts to fulfil strong order books despite a paucity of supply. High energy costs and wider economic uncertainty, however, will undermine operator confidence, meaning that long-term measures to provide stability and growth are needed if the sector – so often a bellwether for business activity – is to return to its past success.”
The year-on-year uptick was driven by the fulfilment of orders for vans weighing more than 2.5 tonnes, up 13.9% to represent 73.8% of the market, while registrations of vans weighing more than 2.0 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes rose by 40.8%. However, vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes were down by 21.5%.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV) deliveries, meanwhile, continued their upward trend, rising 70.0% to a market share of 4.4% – up from 2.9% in 2021. With a growing number of zero emission van models coming to market, more operators are benefitting from lower taxation, purchase incentives and zone charge exemptions. As a result, BEV volumes increased by 52.9% year on year from January to September.
Overall, however, UK van registrations during 2022 to date are down 20.1% year on year at 213,576 units, and some 24.8% below the pre-pandemic five-year average, despite strong order books for the latest LCV models.
While there are signs that pandemic-related component shortages are starting to ease for some manufacturers, the SMMT warns supply issues continue to stymie the market, while economic headwinds add further pressures on recovery. Measures that address the UK’s economic sluggishness and boost operator confidence will be crucial to stimulating the demand needed to help transition the van market to a zero emission future.