CV Show 2024
23 - 25 APRIL 2024 • NEC • BIRMINGHAM • UK
18 March 2024
CV Show

Van demand grows in traditionally quiet month

UK LCV market grows 2.2% in February, best performance since 1998, despite challenges in transitioning to zero emission vehicles.


UK demand for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) grew by 2.2% in February to 17,934 units, marking 14 months of consecutive growth, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). While February is traditionally a lower volume month, as many operators delay procurement until March for the new numberplate, the increase represents the best February performance since 1998.

Registrations of vans weighing more than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes rose by 1.4% to 12,300 units, representing almost seven in 10 (68.6%) of all new vans as the trend for larger units continues. Deliveries of small vans weighing up to and including 2.0 tonnes, and medium-sized vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes, both saw declines, falling by -20.5% to 275 units and -5.9 % to 3,162 units respectively.

The smaller volume 4×4 segment saw registrations more than double, rising by 108.3%, while pickups, crucial for many rural and construction business operations, were the third most popular class of commercial vehicle after heavy and medium vans, with registrations rising 21.2%. Fleet renewal is crucial for decarbonisation and the government’s recent decision to scrap changes to double cab pick-up vehicle taxation will ensure that operators can continue to invest in newer, lower emission models. The sector believes that it would be fairer and simpler to use a vehicle’s type approval as the basis to define it as a car or commercial vehicle for all tax purposes.

With each manufacturer now mandated to achieve a minimum proportion of zero emission registrations every year, February saw a decline in registrations of battery electric vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes, falling by 119 units to 847 units and taking a 4.7% market share, down from 5.5% a year ago. Maintaining existing purchase incentives and ensuring charge point rollout – including van-specific charging infrastructure – will be essential to help raise demand to the level needed to deliver net zero rapidly.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said:

Britain’s appetite for new vans remains undiminished with 14 months of growth and, with last month’s rethink of taxation for pick-ups, expansion looks to be sustained. However, this growth and confidence must be translated into zero emission vehicles if we are to deliver our green goals. Maintenance of essential incentives and a ramp up of dedicated van-suitable charge point installation will be vital if we are to help keep long-term, net zero fleet investment moving forward at the pace needed.


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