Ford leads UK new-LCV market in September as used transactions slump

12 October 2023

September marked the ninth month of continuous growth for the UK’s new light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market, meanwhile used transactions slumped. Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group), examines the divergent trend.

The UK recorded 44,760 new-LCV registrations in September, up 28.1% on 12 months ago. In the year to date (YTD), 257,979 units took to the country’s roads, marking a 20.8% increase on the first nine months of 2022.

In one of the most popular months for registrations due to the country’s plate change, September saw almost all sectors record sizeable growth. A total of 29,150 large vans represented 65.2% of all LCV registrations in the month. Vans between 2-2.5 tonnes gross-vehicle weight (GVW) rose by 89.1%, while those between 2.5-3.5 tonnes recorded a 13% rise in registrations.

The pickup sector also recorded a year-on-year increase, up 64.4%. Vans under two tonnes GVW saw the only negative result last month. These smaller commercial units fell 13.4% compared with September 2022 and dropped 31.1% in the YTD.

Vauxhall leads electric van market

Three quarters of the way through 2023, Ford still dominates LCV registrations in the UK. Three of the top five YTD positions were Ford products, with the Transit Custom taking first, the Transit second and the Ranger fourth.

Ford mirrored this performance in September, claiming first, second and fourth place. Stellantis saw the Vauxhall Vivaro finish in third, the Peugeot Expert ninth (1,589 units) and the Citroen Relay 10th (1,504 units). The Volkswagen (VW) Transporter claimed fifth (2,385 units), the Renault Trafic sixth (2,075 units), the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter seventh (1,658 units) and the Toyota Hilux eighth (1,618 units).

Vauxhall led the electric-LCV market in the month. Its 1,282 units amounted to a 29.5% market share, with the Vivaro Electric accounting for 1,101 registrations. Ford took second with 874 units (20.1% market share) and Nissan was third with 439 units (10.1% market share).

Battery-electric van registrations rose 85.9% to 2,882 units in September, accounting for 6.4% of the overall market, up from 4.4% at the same point in 2022. In the first nine months of the year, BEV registrations reached 14,296 units, a 25.9% increase on the 11,359 units registered between January and September 2022.

However, diesel vehicles still made up 92% of all LCVs registered YTD, proof that much more work is needed to abide by the 10% zero-emission LCV sale target laid out in the ZEV mandate for 2024. These sales will require confidence, not only in vehicle capabilities, but in the supporting public infrastructure which must be suitable for vans of all shapes and sizes.

Used-market disparity

Volumes of used vans entering the wholesale market increased in September. But the disparity between the best and worst examples and the highest and lowest values kept widening. Condition and mileage are key, particularly as repair times keep growing due to the increasing complexities of vehicle builds and parts.

Euro 5 values in the south of the UK started to soften as businesses operating in the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) looked for compliant vehicles. Used electric vans, especially early examples, remain a hard sell on the open market, with values sliding as a result.

The volume of sales decreased by 12.1% over the month, while average prices rose by 12%. Although a dramatic increase, this new level is still 4.75% lower than in September 2022. Supporting these new prices, the average age of all vehicles sold decreased by 8.1 months to 75.2 months and the average mileage fell by 5.6% to 76,954 miles. This is 4.9% (3,999 miles) lower than 12 months ago.

Medium vans in demand

More medium vans were sold at auction than any other vehicle type, accounting for 32.8% of all auction sales. Small vans accounted for 31.1% and large vans 23.9%. Volumes of 4x4 stock accounted for only 11.5% of all sales, but attracted the strongest average price of £15,877 (€18,420), up over £1,520 on August. Large vans covered more distance than any other model type at an average of 89,840 miles, over 3,100 miles fewer than in August.

First-time conversion rates for September rose by 3.1% to 75.8% overall and sat 0.1% higher than at the same point 12 months ago. Broken down, the best conversion rate was seen in the large panel van sector at 77.9% (up 8.4% on August). Meanwhile, a conversion rate of 72% (up 1.2%) in the 4x4 pickup sector was the lowest.

Used vehicles observed for sale in the wholesale market last month increased by nearly 4% to just over 41,200 units. Of all vehicles on sale, 46.5% were valued at £20,000 or more, while 35.5% were on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000. At the lower end of the market, those vehicles on sale in the £10,000 to £5,000 price bracket made up 13.7% of the market, while 4.3% were up for less than £5,000.