UK van market has shrunk every month in 2022 amid supply issues

The UK new light commercial vehicle market suffered its seventh consecutive month of decline in July, according to new figures. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed registrations were down by more than a fifth compared with the same month last year.

In total, 18,722 new light commercial vehicles, including vans and pick-up trucks, were registered for the first time last month, down from more than 23,600 during the same month last year. That 20.7-percent drop means the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market has shrunk in all seven months of 2022 – an issue the SMMT has blamed on global supply chain shortages.

Compared with pre-coronavirus registrations, the result looks just as underwhelming, with sales down by almost a quarter (23.9 percent) relative to the five-year pre-pandemic average for July. However, the SMMT says the figures are mostly being manipulated by the supply shortages, as manufacturers have “strong order books”.

With supply stifling the sector, sales were down across the board, although the 2.5-3.5-tonne van market remained the strongest part of the market. With 14,782 such vans registered, the sector made up 79 percent of the total LCV market, although it still saw sales decline by more than 11 percent compared with last July.

More dramatic reductions were seen in the 2-2.5-tonne van market, where sales were down by almost half (49.8 percent) compared with the same month last year. Similarly, sales of commercial 4x4s were down by 51.2 percent, although that is a very niche sector with sales rarely topping 1,000 in a given month.

Ford Transit five-tonne panel van and chassis cab
With sales falling every month this year, it’s no surprise to see registrations lagging behind 2021 levels during the first seven months of 2022. From January 1 to July 31, 2022 LCV sales topped 163,000 – down by almost a quarter (24.2 percent) compared with the 215,000 registered during the same period last year.

“The LCV market is struggling to recover post-Covid as global supply chain shortages and economic headwinds make the business environment even more challenging for both manufacturers and operators,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “In these circumstances, the continued growth in electric van uptake is admirable as the industry strives to deliver its net zero commitments. Given the importance of the commercial vehicle sector to Britain’s economy, its environmental ambitions and the need to keep society on the move, the next Prime Minister must look to restore economic confidence and support the sector’s transition to zero emission mobility.”

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