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Best February in quarter of a century for UK van market

The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew for the second consecutive month in February, rising by 8.5% to 17,540 units, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). While February is traditionally a volatile month due to small volumes as many operators delay procurements until March and the new number plate, the increase marks the best February performance since 1998, the year before the bi-annual plate change was introduced.1

New LCV regs summary

Registrations of vans weighing greater than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes rose by 14.0% to reach 12,125 units, more than two thirds of the total market (69.1%), while vans weighing up to and including 2.0 tonnes increased by 5.2%. Conversely, medium-sized vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes fell by -16.5% to 3,361 units, reflecting the broader long-term trend towards larger units. The smaller volume pickup and 4×4 utility segments both saw double-digit growth, up 42.3% and 90.8% respectively.

Deliveries of battery electric vans, meanwhile, declined to 966 units, down -44.5% on a particularly strong February in 2022, with traditionally smaller volumes in the month accentuating natural fluctuations in fleet investment. With more new models set to hit the market in the coming months, growth is expected to resume, with the latest market outlook anticipating electrified van registrations to rise by 64.5% to some 28,000 units this year.2 Long-term growth to meet net zero ambitions, however, will depend on a strong, flexible market and dedicated infrastructure, which is so far lacking.

Year to date, overall LCV registrations are up by 17.5% on the same period in 2022 and by 5.3% on the first two months of 2020,3 pre-pandemic, reflecting demand for these critical vehicles from key sectors.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Following a torrid 2022, the UK van market is returning to sustained growth that is exceeding even pre-pandemic levels. Given the importance of vans to keeping the British economy and society on the move, this growth is good news. With the ZEV market still at a very early stage, however, a concerted effort by all stakeholders to accelerate van-suitable chargepoint installation must become an urgent priority, enabling long-term net zero fleet investment at the scale necessary.”

“Van and Light Commercial registrations figures for February are the highest recorded for this month, since 1998. This is very positive news for the industry, and highlights that the market is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels,” said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents car and commercial retailers across the UK, commenting on the latest SMMT LCV registration figures.

“Whilst February’s registration figures are typically restrained due to customers holding off on committing to a new van before March, to benefit from the new ’23 prefix number plate, it is extremely positive to see such strong registration figures.

“Dealers are optimistic with demand for light commercials under 3.5 tonne and, hopefully, with the easing of supply there should be more new vans readily available for customers. With the continued growth in online business, LCV appetite will remain robust.”

Feb Fuel 2023 and YTD LCV

Van Feb 2023 overview month YTD

Van bestsellers Feb 23

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