UK new van registrations halve in March

We know that many van drivers here in the UK are doing a fantastic job of keeping the wheels of industry turning.

However, the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), show that new van registrations halved last month, giving a stark indication of the true impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

According to SMMT, the UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market fell -54.3 per cent in March amid nationwide lockdown measures and dealerships closing in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Registrations more than halved compared with March 2019, with just 30,247 vans bearing the new 2020 number plate joining the roads.

Demand fell in double digits across most segments, with only the small volume 4×4 sector experiencing an 18.4 per cent increase.

Pickups and smaller vans weighing less than 2 tonnes saw declines of -57.8 per cent and -64.0 per cent respectively. Larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the bulk of registrations, but were down -56.0 per cent, with 17,925 units registered. Performance year-to-date is down -33.9 per cent, rounding off the weakest first quarter since March 2012.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘The commercial vehicle market is a barometer for the wider economy so March’s decline to the lowest level in more than 20 years is stark evidence of a crisis of truly unprecedented proportions.

‘There is no doubt that demand will recover once we overcome the challenge that lies ahead. Commercial vehicles are keeping supermarket and pharmacy shelves stacked and emergency services running – our reliance on this critical sector is being felt now more so than ever before.

During the coronavirus lockdown, commercial vehicles have been used to support crucial sectors. In addition to fulfilling essential utility services, drivers have been providing support services for NHS trusts, local charities and food banks across the country and sharing capacity to ensure grocery and pharmaceutical sectors can keep up with demand.

Next page: New van registrations soar in August