Coronavirus pandemic continues to stifle van market

We know that it’s been an incredibly tough few months, with every industry sector across the globe affected by Covid-19.

However, the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) gives a very stark indication of just how badly the vehicle market has been impacted; van registrations down by a staggering 74.1 per cent last month.

Admittedly, the figures are a little less alarming than April’s drop of 86.2 per cent, but it does send out a warning that it may be some time before we see a substantial market recovery.

According to SMMT, 7,451 vehicles were delivered in May, with the majority of fleets undertaking essential operations, including food distribution, home delivery, utility provision, broadband implementation and emergency services.

Registrations for smaller commercial vehicles have continued to see the largest decline. Just 741 pick-ups and 26 4×4 vehicles were registered in May, a drop of 80.3 per cent and 83.8 per cent respectively. Similarly, vans weighing 2.0 tonnes and mid-sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes also fell by a sizeable 84 per cent and 78.7 per cent.

Larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes showed the lowest drop in registrations at 70.4 per cent, with 5,412 vehicles delivered to essential businesses focused on supporting the country during the pandemic.

The two months of lockdown have clearly had a substantial impact on van registrations for the first half of the year. Year-to-date performance has almost halved, down 44 per cent year-on-year, while SMMT’s outlook predicts a 28 per cent decline in 2020.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “These figures are extremely worrying. As more businesses re-open, we are seeing a gradual uptick in fleet renewal orders. However, restoring operator confidence to ensure they continue to invest in their fleets is the only way to get more of the latest, cleanest commercial vehicles on our roads.

“This will be critical not just to the economy but to the resumption of normality for business and society which depends on this sector.”

Ed Bevis, Commercial and Marketing Director at The Van Insurer, commented “The impact of Coronavirus on the van driving community is starkly expressed through these figures from SMMT.

“However, we’re hopeful that, as lock down measures are eased over the coming months, van registrations will start to improve as more and more businesses and tradesmen re-enter the workplace.

“We’re already seeing an increase in online quotes as the UK begins to recover, which we feel is a good barometer of market health.”