New van market records highest April registrations in history

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The light commercial vehicle market recorded its busiest ever April as 30,440 new vans were registered, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

The Ford Transit Custom (pictured) was the month’s best seller.

Key points:

  • 30,440 vans registered in April, the highest-ever total for the month since records began.
  • Registrations up 23.2% on five-year average.
  • Sector currently back at 2019 registration levels, supported by growth in large van uptake.

All vehicle segments saw artificially inflated growth rates relative to April 2020, when Covid restrictions shut down much of the economy, with an eight-fold increase in total units.  Registrations were also well ahead of the five-year average, with April 2021 up by 23.2%.1 With some 127,796 vans registered so far in 2021, uptake levels have returned to levels last seen in 2019.

Growth was primarily driven by a sustained increase in larger van acquisition, with vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes accounting for 20,037 registrations. So far in 2021, heavy van registrations have almost doubled compared to the same period in 2020, up to 84,374 compared with 42,749 recorded in the first four months of last year. As a result, SMMT’s latest outlook for the sector forecasts that around 369,000 vans will be registered in 2021.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Businesses are investing in new vehicles as they grow in confidence, driven by a more positive economic outlook stimulated by the vaccine rollout. There has been particular uplift in larger van uptake, both from established demand in home delivery, but also more broadly as other sectors emerge from lockdown looking to maximise their payload efficiency. 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.”

About SMMT and the UK automotive industry 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media. 

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £78.9 billion turnover and £15.3 billion value added. With some 180,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and 864,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 13% of total UK export of goods and invests more than £3 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 manufacturers build some 70 models of vehicle in the UK supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world’s most skilled engineers.

More detail on UK automotive available in SMMT’s Motor Industry Facts 2020 publication at https://media.smmt.co.uk/facts/

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