Commercial-vehicle registrations in Europe off to a poor start in 2022

25 February 2022

Light-commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations in the European Union (EU) got off to a poor start in 2022, with January figures down 14.2% year-on-year.

A total of 99,461 units were registered in the month, according to the latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA). The poor performance of LCVs was the main factor in the entire commercial-vehicle sector recording a drop in the month. Overall, registrations across all commercial-vehicle types declined 11.1% to 125,292 units.

The figures come as EU new-car registrations hit a ‘historic low’ last month. The car market fell 6% to just under 700,000 vehicles, all the more troubling when taking into account that COVID-19 impacted January 2021 figures were already poor in themselves. Therefore, the entire European new-vehicle market saw a poor start to the year.

Slow recovery

LCV registrations declined in January 2021, although those figures were compared to pre-pandemic demand for new vans. Nevertheless, the further decline in the market last month shows the long road ahead for recovery.

Looking at the four major markets, Italy was the only one to record growth in January, with the LCV market up by 1.1%. Spain suffered a dramatic 27.2% decline, and France fared slightly better, its market falling 18.9%. Germany saw a modest loss of 1.7%.

Spain’s decline is even more dramatic when 2021 figures are taken into account. Last January, its market contracted 31.2%. This means in the space of two years, LCV registrations have gone from 13,868 units to just 6,952 at the start of this year.

Just eight markets saw growth last month, albeit on smaller totals. The headline figure was Latvia, which achieved growth of 56.3%, although this equates to just 225 LCVs registered. Hungary saw the biggest decline, with a 40% drop, at just 1,062 registrations compared to 1,771 the previous year.

Outside of the EU, the UK also saw a weak start to the year, as the LCV market dropped 26.9% with just 17,556 units registered. This represented the worst January since 2013, although the sector had a tough act to follow following promising figures at the start of 2021.

The LCV market is struggling with supply issues caused by a lack of semiconductors. In connection with rising energy prices, and high fuel costs due to increases in the price of oil, it could be a tough few months for sales. Fleets will need to budget carefully, as any spike in petrol and diesel costs will impact the logistics sector.

Total market decline

The total commercial-vehicle market saw peaks and troughs across all sectors, with total registrations declining 11.1%. Three of the four big EU markets posted overall declines, with Spain seeing a drop of 20.1%, France down 17%, and Germany declining 3.1%. Italy saw a total of 14,384 units registered last month, the exact same amount as one year previously.

Medium and heavy-commercial vehicles (MHCVs) across the EU saw growth of 4.1%, while heavy-commercial vehicles (HCVs) increased their registrations by 8%. Medium and heavy buses and coaches (MHBCs), however, saw a decline of 6.6% compared to 2021.