Registrations of new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) rose by 11% in July, largely driven by demand for vans, but the market for rigids from 3.5 – 6.0 tonnes continues to fall, according to new figures.
Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that there were 25,862 new models registered in July for use on UK roads, which was put down to a range of new models available from manufacturers and some attractive offers on the market.
The growth in July was largely driven by demand for medium vans, weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes, and large vans, weighing 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes, the segments both rising by 17%.
Meanwhile, pickups, 4x4s and smaller vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes all saw declines in sales in the month. The decline in sales of pickups was marked – down 21% year-on-year – with just 114 registered. However, pickup sales in 2019 overall are down just 7% on 2018.
Small van – weighing under two tonnes – sales also declined in July, down by 12% year-on-year. This was perhaps surprising given that to date in 2019, sales of small vans are 3% up on the same period in 2018.
In the year-to-date the market is up 9% and, as a result, the SMMT has revised its latest 2019 forecast up to 363,000 units. LCV sales are currently at their highest for three years.
The best-selling LCV in July was the Ford Transit Custom with 3,798 registrations, more than 50% more than its nearest competitor, the Ford Transit, which claimed 2,307 registrations. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was the third most popular LCV in July (2,148 units registered), followed by the Volkswagen Transporter (1,303).
All four LCVs comprise the top four best-selling of the year to date too. The Ford Transit Custom has recorded 34,689 registrations so far this year, very nearly double that of its nearest rival, the larger Ford Transit – 34,689 compared to 17,487.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “Another month of growth for the new van market is welcome relief for the automotive sector as it faces multiple challenges simultaneously. Buyers continue to be attracted to the latest, cleanest vans, which is good news for the manufacturers that have invested significant amounts to create them, but also for the environment and exchequer.
“Buying cycles do fluctuate, however, and for this performance to continue we need an end to Brexit uncertainty starting with a favourable deal for the industry.”