“The light commercial market up to 3.5 tonnes increased by 2.9% in December showing that the demand for light vans remains strong despite uncertainty and concerns surrounding Brexit and the economyâ€, said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK, commenting on the latest SMMTâ€™s light commercial vehicle registration figures.
Overall in 2017, the light commercial vehicle market was more resilient than expected with a modest decline of -3.6% on last year. A total of 362,149 units were registered, which equates to only 13,538 vehicles less than the previous year.
Throughout 2017, there have been changes in the sales pattern across the different segments of the light van market.
Pick-up sales grew by 7.8% thanks to the high demand from tradespeople for a dual-purpose vehicle that can be used for both private and business use.
Light vans up to 2.0 tonnes, which are vehicles often based on estate car chassis, saw a decline of -20.3%. These vehicles are often used as service vans to carry tools for service and repair works and part of this decline could be down to more and more consumers opting for pick-ups.
Medium vans between 2.0 – 2.5 tonnes rose by 2.3%, however this remains a small segment of the market, accounting for only 15% of all light commercials registered in 2017.
Large vans between 2.5 – 3.5 tonnes saw a significant growth of 7.5% in December and a moderate decline of -3.1% in 2017. These heavy vans represent 62% of all commercials under 3.5 tonnes sold in the UK and the segment is therefore the most significant indicator of the market as many of these vehicles are bought by big fleets and corporate entities.
Robinson continued, â€œThere is a general understanding that the light commercial vehicle market is stable. This is also echoed by heavy goods vehicle dealers who have reported a steady demand for heavy commercials throughout the year and do not expect any significant decline in 2018â€.