“It is encouraging to see the light commercial vehicle sector performing exceptionally well in January, with a 2% increase in registrations, thanks to dealers’ ability to meet demand through click & collect services and deliveries, despite the current constraints affecting physical dealerships”, said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents franchised commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, commenting on the latest SMMT’s light van market figures.
The overall increase was driven by the demand for larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes (up 25.4%) that are often used for goods distribution and online deliveries. These vehicles are generally purchased by larger operators who do not need showrooms to be open and plan their vehicle needs well in advance.
The strong demand in the heavy sector offset the significant declines in sales of lighter vans and pick-ups that are usually bought by smaller businesses, self-employed and semi-retail customers who would often transact in a showroom.
The biggest decline came from the small van sector under 2.0 tonnes, down 50.1%. These vehicles tend to be used as service vans and may indicate a possible decline in demand for service engineers and technicians that usually operate on call at residential properties.
Pick-ups suffered a 25.8% decline; many of these vehicles are acquired for the dual business and leisure purpose by the self-employed and are often ordered on dealer premises as customers require more detailed specifications.
The clear winner in volume terms in January was Ford, with a 35.7% market share as its Transit Custom and Heavy Transit took the first and second position in registrations. The third best seller was Vauxhall with a 12.3% market share, thanks to the success of its new Vivaro that offers a wide range of models including an electric version.
Sue Robinson added: “It is also positive that recently introduced battery and plug-in electric vans have started to get some traction, with an overall 3.6% market share in a sector that has in the past been dominated by diesel powered vehicles.
“These figures indicate a healthy economy and dealers are optimistic about the 2021 LCV market, however there are concerns around consumer confidence, the length of the lockdown and vehicle supply constraints that may hold the market back in the first quarter of this year”.
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