April new van registrations hit highest-ever total

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5th May 2021

A total of 30,440 new vans were registered in the UK in April; the highest-ever total for the month since records began.

The newly published figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that while the light commercial vehicle market was, as expected, artificially up nearly nine-fold on the 3,387 vans registered in April last year, it’s also up 23.2% on the five-year average; reinforcing the sector’s strong growth.

Compared to April 2020 in lockdown, all vehicle segments were up, as expected. The greatest demand was seen in larger van acquisition, with vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes accounting for 20,037 registrations – due to both established demand in home delivery, but also as other sectors emerge from lockdown and look to maximise their payload efficiency.

For the year-to-date, some 127,796 vans have been registered in 2021 and uptake has returned to levels last seen in 2019. Again, it’s the heavy van registrations where demand and growth is highest; up 97.4% to 84,374 compared with 42,749 recorded in the first four months of last year.

SMMT’s latest outlook for the sector forecasts that around 369,000 vans will be registered in 2021. By way of meaningful comparison, 365,778 units were registered in 2019 pre-pandemic, so this year’s market is expected to revert to the ongoing trend for growth – barring last year’s drop to 292,657 vans – which was the first time units had fallen under the 300,000 level since 2013. And growth is expected despite the semi-conductor shortage hitting new vehicle production.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With a fragile supply chain still subject to risk of disruption and ongoing Covid restrictions, there is some way to go before we can say business is back to normal, but after a very difficult year, the outlook is much brighter.”

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