The UK new van market continued to decline in January, down 4.2% on the same month in 2017.

New figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) show that 20,475 new vans were registered in the month, 888 fewer than in January 2017. And the results follow a 3.6% slide over the whole of 2017, the first time the market has declined in five years.

Leading industry figures blamed uncertainty over future trading conditions for affecting confidence, but also tried to strike a positive note.“With business confidence continuing to be affected by economic and political uncertainty, this decline comes as no surprise,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“Despite this, the UK van market remains at a very high level and, although purchasing patterns are cyclical they do fluctuate with business confidence, so we continue to look to government to improve conditions so the sector can grow,” Hawes added.

Smallest hit hardest

The largest decline in January was again seen at the smaller end of the market. Registrations of under 2.0-tonne vehicles, mostly derived from cars, plummeted by some 28.9% to just 1,482 units.

The biggest sector of the market, for vans between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, remained much more stable. A total of 12,392 vehicles were registered in January, a drop of just 1.8%.

Meanwhile demand for medium vans of between 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes rose 1.2%, with 3,206 registrations.

The van top 10 paints a familiar picture, with the Ford Transit Custom leading the way on 2,697 registrations, followed by its traditional Transit sister on 1,947.

The Volkswagen Transporter took third spot with 1,395 registrations, while the Ford Ranger continued to wave the flag for pick-ups with 1144 registrations in fourth spot, just ahead of the Transit Connect on 1,057.

The remainder of the top 10 comprised the Peugeot Partner (979), the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (924), Citroën Berlingo (920), Vauxhall Vivaro (788) and Renault Trafic (768).

Van registrations The Van Expert

Van totals The Van Expert

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.

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