The new LCV market had a great time in March as sales were up by 85.5% in March compared to the equivalent in March 2020 according to the latest figures released this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) . Of course, unless you have been living under a stone for the last 12 months there is a very obvious reason for the exceptionally large percentage increase.
COVID IS THE MAIN REASON
Any comparison with last years registration figures from March onwards will inevitably have the shadow of COVID hanging over it and hopefully as the country is starting to open up more and more each month the figure of 85% will be beaten!
A total of 56,122 vans were registered last month, which is traditionally one of the busiest months of the year as the new 21 plate comes into operation. The 85% increase was the largest ever increase since the switch to the two plate system in 1999, were previously it was just one plate change carried out every August.
Still not up to normal sales
Despite the great 85% headline figure the market is still represented an -10.9% decrease when compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 average, as nationwide lockdown appears to continue to suppress business confidence in the first quarter of the year.
Ignoring the very small 4×4 sector figures, vans between 2.5 – 3.5 tonne gross vehicle weight saw the largest increase at 101% and this was quickly followed by small vans at 96.1% and then pickups at 85.7% .
LCV Market Best Sellers
Ford Transit Custom and the Ford Transit remain the best selling UK vans both in March and also, perhaps more importantly the year to date. In fact Ford takes three of the top four spots with the Ford Ranger beating the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to fourth place. The Volkswagen Transporter retains third place throughout and then the PSA Group vans such as the Vivaro, Combo, Berlingo take many of the remaining places in the top ten.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Although a marked improvement on last year’s March numbers, these figures illustrate the impact Covid has had on the sector and how far away the van market is from the growth it was enjoying before the pandemic hit. However, as the country emerges from lockdown, vaccinations continue to roll out, and non-essential businesses reopen, the added confidence will hopefully help shift the gears from recovery to growth for the van market.