The new light commercial vehicle market grew by nearly 9% in January, according to the latest results posted this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
There were strong increases in all segments apart from medium vans (2.0 – 2.5 tonnes) and large rigid vans over 3.5 tones (which are not counted in LCV numbers anyway).
It was a welcome bounce back from poor December results for the LCV industry, although it’s generally accepted that the industry’s roller-coaster ride through 2018 is likely to continue this year.
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Small vans, in particular, saw strong growth of 32% after months of declines. Pick-ups continue their ongoing growth in the market, now firmly the second-largest market segment after large vans (2.5 – 3.5 tonnes).
There is speculation that fleets may be getting new purchases in ahead of an increasingly likely no-deal Brexit at the end of March, as well as trying to get ahead of London ULEZ deadlines that will come into force in April.
It is likely that private hire operators will continue to order big on diesel people carriers this year, ahead of zero-emissions rules that will come into effect in London next January, when only zero-emissions vehicles will be able to be registered in the capital.
Good month, bad month
It was a good month for Mitsubishi off the back of strong results for its outgoing L200 pick-up, recording a 79% increase in registrations on the same month last year. Mercedes-Benz was up by 30%, while Fiat was up 19% and Citroën was up by 18%. Toyota was up by 15% and Nissan by 11%.
On the other side of the ledger, it was a poor month for Renault, which was down 19% or 240 vehicles. Renault Trucks was also down on the specialist van front, but that was only by 40 vans.
Isuzu was down by 25% in January (quite probably to the direct benefit of Mitsubishi), although that was a drop of 64 vehicles, which was a smaller absolute fall than Ford, which dropped by only 1% or 77 vehicles.
Best-sellers of 2018 still the best in January
The Mitsubishi L200 had a great month, coming from outside the top ten to almost edge the VW for a podium place. It’s the first time in a long time that the Ford Ranger hasn’t been the country’s best-selling pick-up truck.