New van market sales and used LCVs strong in March

The new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew for the third consecutive month in March, rising by 17.3% to 47,634 units.

The year continues positively for the UK’s LCV market, with 87,272 units registered in the first three months of the year – a 17.4% year-on-year increase – up from 74,344 units a year earlier and the best start since 2021 (97,356 units).

Registrations in the pickup segment jumped 29.3% to 5,762 units, while vans between 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) rose 66.3% to 9,276 units.

Vans between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes GVW made up over 64.3% of all LCVs registered in the month – recording a 4.9% rise (30,651 units). Compared with March 2022, vans below 2.0 tonnes GVW fell 24.6% to 681 units.

Ford showed their dominance in the UK market, registering more LCVs than any other manufacturer during the month, with the Transit Custom, Transit and Ranger in first, second and third positions respectively.

The Transit Connect finished in eighth registering 2,140 units.

The Stellantis Group saw the Citroen Berlingo achieve fifth place, the Vauxhall Vivaro ninth (2,092 units) and the Peugeot Partner tenth (1,833 units).

Volkswagen claimed fourth with the Transporter, the Renault Trafic was sixth with 2,221 units and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter seventh with 2,168 units.

Registrations showed growth in March due in part to the introduction of the new number plate, but also due to a particularly poor March last year when protracted supply chain shortages hindered deliveries.

Despite the rise in demand, the quarter remains 15.1% off the pre-pandemic 2019 total of 102,743 units.

Although supply-chain challenges will ease during 2023, a full recovery is unlikely until 2024.

There was a sizeable 32.7% increase in battery-electric van registrations for March, with 2,534 units registered, up 625 units on twelve months ago.

Year-to-date, BEV registrations are 4.6% up on 12 months ago, with a market share of 5.1% (5.8% 2022).

Expectation is for further growth in 2023, however, to achieve the 28,000-unit target, a dedicated LCV-suitable charging network must be implemented.

The Zero Emission Mandate is due to come into force at the beginning of next year meaning there must be a rapid increase in the sale of battery electric vans and the infrastructure to support them.

Mirroring the strong new market position, so demand in the used market has remained positive with values strengthening again.

There are healthy levels of stock in the used market, as fleet and leasing companies receive new stock allowing them to de-fleet older ‘pandemic worn’ vehicles.

However, in the three years since the beginning of the pandemic, the age of the van parc has grown with many buyers now changing their stock profile sourcing older vehicles with higher mileages.

Average sales prices have increased by nearly 3.3% since the end of last year, but have fallen 5.6% since last March during the worst of the stock shortages.

Glass’s has observed a healthy and robust used market with a huge rise in transactions during March.

Sales have increased by just under 11% versus February, with average sales prices up 0.8% over the same period. However, sales are still 4.1% lower than in March last year, with an average sales price 5.6% behind this point twelve months ago.

As with previous months, the most popular used segment was the medium van. These models accounted for 38.3% of all auction sales, while 4×4 stock was again the least popular (15%) but attracted the strongest average sales prices of £14,803, £1,001 higher than in February.

The average age of vehicles sold during March fell by 0.2 months to 82 months, with the average mileage of those vehicles sold increasing by 0.43% to 84,548 miles. This is nearly 3,200 miles higher than 12 months ago.

Large panel vans unsurprisingly covered more distance than any other model type, averaging 93,579 miles, up 29 miles on February.

First-time conversion rates for March fell 3.2% to 82.5% overall, with all segments recording a decrease.

The continued shortage of small vans in the used market has meant this sector returned the best conversion rate of 86.4% (down 2.9% on February). Medium vans recorded 82.1% (down 4.1%), 4×4 pickups 83.0% (down 2.5%) and large panel vans 76.9% (down 3%).

Used vehicles observed for sale in the wholesale market last month decreased by 1.9% to nearly just over 39,100 units.

Half (50.1%) of all vehicles on sale were valued at £20,000 or more, while 33.4% were on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000.

At the lower end of the market, 12.5% of all vehicles were on sale for between £10,000 and £5,000.

Those on sale for less than £5,000 reduced slightly from 4.2% to 4% of the overall market.

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