LCV market drops by -16.1% as businesses wait for plate change

Monday, September 7, 2020 - 08:57
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The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market returned to decline with a -16.1% decrease in demand, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). In total, 19,407 vans and pickups were registered during what is traditionally the quietest month of the year for registrations.

Declines were recorded in all classes of vehicles, notably vans weighing more than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes (-18.2%) and vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes (-35.0%). Even so, the market was more robust than originally predicted, but LCV registrations are still down by -36.4% year to date.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “August is traditionally a quiet month as fleets wait for the new September plate, so even small volume declines can look big in percentage terms.

“However, with this sector particularly sensitive to the economic outlook, which remains uncertain, we urgently need measures to restore operator confidence to invest and renew their fleets – vital for achieving the government’s environmental and air quality goals.”

Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, said: “As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and the UK gets back to business, LCVs will play a critical part in the UK’s long-term green recovery – given their prominence in urban areas.

“The recent lockdown has given us a glimpse of what a greener future could look like. With plans for Clean Air Zones in cities across the UK firmly on the table, demand among businesses for their fleets to have the newest and cleanest vehicles is continuing to rise. We’re working closely with our customers to help them identify where electric vans can be most sensibly and easily introduced into their business.

“The key is to identify the tipping point between new models entering the market, advances in battery technology and charging infrastructure versus the practical demands of their day-to-day operations. For vans weighing 3.5t and above, the cleanest diesel technology is still the most practical option, whereas, in the lighter ranges, the transition to electric can be more favourable. The most challenging aspect has been waiting for the right vehicles to become available on the market. As we start to see more and more OEMs introduce new models, I believe van operators are becoming more engaged to make the switch from ICE vehicles to electric.

“Ultimately, a van is a tool to do a job and, in these times more than ever, operators need their vans to be out on the roads making money, while keeping costs to a minimum. But, deployed correctly, an alternatively-fuelled LCV can deliver cost savings and increased reliability. As the country heads towards a net-zero emissions future, early adopters of the technology can get ahead of the curve and maximise the cost and environmental benefits.”

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