Poor December results bring rollercoaster LCV sales year to a close

It was a poor showing for December new LCV registrations, with results down nearly 9% to close the year for 2018 in figures published today by the Society Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In terms of full-year results, the overall LCV market was down just over 1% for 2018 against 2017, a result that exceeded market expectations.

December’s fall follows two solid months in November and October, and echoes a slowing in fleet new car sales in results also published today, suggesting that more and more businesses are freezing new contracts and purchases in the face of operational uncertainties ahead of Brexit in March.

It was mid-size vans that took the biggest hit in December, down 22% year-on-year. Large rigid vans (3.5 – 6.0 tonnes) also had a terrible month, but those results are not included in the overall LCV figures.

New LCV sales December 2018

Full-year results surprisingly stable

For the full year, a 1.3% fall on 2017 results was better than had generally been predicted at the start of the year. This represents a drop of less than 5,000 units, with more than 357,000 new vans, pick-ups and commercial 4x4s being registered in 2018.

Again, the results are not included in the overall figures, but large rigid vans ended the year 23% better than the previous year. Given that most of these vehicles are built by the same manufacturers and sold by the same dealers, it means that the overall LCV market was very stable in the year’s final reckoning.

This is rather surprising, since the market had been up and down all year. We will have a more detailed look at the full-year results later this week.

Ford tops the tables, as usual

Ford held the market lead in every segment in December, with the Ford Transit besting its large-van rival, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, for the first time in a few months.

As usual, the Ford Transit Custom reigned supreme over the entire LCV market, while the Transit Connect small van and Ranger pick-up continued to dominate their segments.

LCV best sellers, December 2018

In terms of full-year sales, the Mercedes Sprinter’s strong last half of the year just fell short of unseating the Volkswagen Transporter for third spot in the top ten, behind the familiar Fords above.

Ford ended the year with four of the top seven models in the market and a market share of 35%, further tightening its grip on the UK’s LCV sector.

Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttp://www.thecarexpert.co.uk
Stuart is the Editorial Director of The Van Expert, which came about after the success of sister site The Car Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help vehicle buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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