LCV SALES FIGURES: Has the market passed its peak?

Date: Monday, March 12, 2018

There were winners and losers as light commercial vehicle registrations declined in 2017 following years of growth. James Dallas looks at the numbers

The Ford Transit Custom – the country’s biggest-selling light commercial

New light commercial vehicle sales fell by 3.6% in 2017 to 362,149 units, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the first year the market has declined since 2012.

The drop in registrations was on the cards considering the marginal 1.0% rise to a record 375,687 units in 2016 represented a considerable slowdown compared to the 15% leap in sales between 2014 and 2015.

With the Brexit negotiations hitting business confidence through failing to provide much clarity on the future of the UK’s trading relationships within its largest market, the European Union, however, the SMMT has forecast another year-on-year sales dip of 2.6% to 353,000 units in 2018 followed by a further fall of 3.1% to 342,000 in 2019.

Despite pointing out that LCV sales have increased by more than 60% since 2010’s recession-induced trough of 223,000, SMMT boss Mike Hawes warns: “We expect the economic and political uncertainty to continue to affect the market, so the Government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is the fastest way to reduce overall emissions.”

A closer look at the 2017 market reveals sales of small vans weighing less than 2.0t fell sharply, by 20.3% to 29,407 units, and the crucial market for medium and large vans, weighing 2.5t to 3.5t, slipped back 3.1% to 225,837.

However, there was better news for pick-ups, up 7.8% to 51,415 units, and light vans weighing 2.0t to 2.5t, which saw a 2.3% rise to 55,047.

Unsurprisingly, Ford continues to dominate the market, growing sales by just under 2.0% year-on-year to 117,831 – nearly three times as many as second-placed VW, with 41,474 units representing a fall of 8.5% that can be partly explained by the disruptions to supply caused by the introduction of the new Crafter and facelifted Amarok.

Like last year, Ford provided the best-selling models in all the core market sectors: the Transit Connect light van, the Transit Custom medium van, the Transit large van and the Ranger pick-up.


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