Annual sales of new vans in the UK fell in 2017, for the first time in five years.

Figures issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) showed that 362,149 light-commercial vehicles were registered in the year, 3.6% down on 2016 and the first annual decline since 2012. This was also despite a rise in the market in December, up 2.9% on the same month in 2016 with 28,016 registrations.

The SMMT appeared to express little concern over the annual figures, however, chief executive Mike Hawes commenting that the slide was in line with expectations and demand remains at its third highest in a decade. “In fact, LCV registrations have increased 62.5% since 2010,” he said.

However Hawes called on the Government to help the market, predicting that in 2018 the market would be affected by economic and political uncertainty.

“Government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is fastest way to reduce overall emissions,” he said.

Van registrations The Van ExpertThe largest sector of the market, for 2.5 to 3.5-tonne vans, fell 3.1% over the year with 225,837 registrations, while the second-biggest sector for 2.0 to 2.5-tonne vehicles saw 55,047 registrations, a 2.3% rise. But the smallest sub-2.0 vans declined drastically, down 20.3% with 29,407 registrations.

One definite growth area in the market is in pickups – registrations were up 7.8% with 51,415 new vehicles recorded. With models such as the Ford Ranger proving popular, and new entrants into the market such as Mercedes-Benz with its X-Class, pickups are creating a lot of interest.

The Ranger was the 10th best-selling LCV over the year with 13,044 registrations, and seventh in December. The annual table was again dominated by Ford with its Transit Custom and Transit models – the 51,885 registrations of the Custom were close to double that of its sister model, which recorded 27,062.

The rest of the top five places were filled by the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (23,588), the Volkswagen Transporter (21,898) and a third Ford model, the Transit Connect (19,805).

Van best sellers The Van Expert

Ford Ranger The Van Expert
Models such as the Ford Ranger are fuelling growth in the pickup market.
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.