No let-up in UK LCV market decline

14 September 2022


Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group) looks at latest developments in the new and used light-commercial vehicle (LCV) in the UK.

Despite full order books for the year, an eighth straight month of decline in new light-commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations in the UK has left the industry without growth for the whole of 2022.

There were just 15,520 new LCV registrations in August, down 24.6% on the 20,582 units 12 months ago, according to the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Of those, 6.1% or 944 were battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), up 14.7% on 2021. Year-to-date (YTD) registrations of 178,626 units were 24.2% down on the same point in 2021. YTD BEV registrations stand at 9,809 units, capturing 5.5% of the overall LCV market. This figure is up 50.6% on 2021. The Vauxhall Vivaro-e remains the best-selling electric van, with 2,473 units registered YTD.

For the sixth straight month, all LCV sectors recorded declines in registrations. Vans below 2.0 tonnes fell 44.1%, while those between 2.0-2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) fell 45.3%. The 2.5-3.5 tonne sector – which made up 78.5% of all vans registered in the month – declined 14.0%. The pickup sector returned a 52.2% decline.

Ford kept the top spot, with the Transit Custom registering 1,903 units in August. The 28,781 registrations also make the Custom the UK’s best-selling vehicle YTD. The Ford Transit was second with 1,742 units, whilst the Ford Transit Connect and Ford Ranger finished sixth and seventh respectively.

The Vauxhall Vivaro, Peugeot Expert, and Citroën Dispatch from Stellantis filled the third (1,102 units), eighth (709 units) and 10th (510 units) spots, with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter coming in fourth, the Volkswagen Transporter fifth, and the Renault Trafic ninth.

YTD 2022August 2022August 2021
Ford Transit Custom 28,781Ford Custom Transit 1,903Ford Transit Custom 3,592
Ford Transit 21,548Ford Transit 1,742Ford Transit 2,161
Vauxhall Vivaro 10,950Vauxhall Vivaro 1,102Ford Ranger 1,776
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 10,122Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 981Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 1,654
Ford Ranger 9,351Volkswagen Transporter 739Volkswagen Transporter 1,488

The shortage of components continues to hamper production, as is reflected in the August registrations. In what was the lowest August registration volume recorded for the month since 2017, increasingly strong economic headwinds and continued supply-chain challenges continue to test the market. Although manufacturers are fast-tracking the transition to electric, infrastructure improvements are urgently required to give businesses the confidence to make the switch.

Increase in auction sales but demand erratic

Sales of used stock at auction increased by 1.9% in August mainly due to improved demand. Although average sales prices rose for the second month in a row, demand overall is erratic with buyers targeting those vehicles that can be retailed quickly for maximum return.

Glass’s data show that the total number of vehicles sold at auction increased by 1.9% versus July and was only 0.7% lower than the same point 12 months ago. The average sales price for the month increased by 2.25% and was 0.83% higher than August 2021.

The average age of vehicles sold during August reduced by 1.8 months to 72.4 months, whilst the average mileage reduced for the third month in a row to 78,844, down from 80,106 miles in July. The latest average mileage is nearly 1,600 miles higher than twelve months ago. First-time conversion rates for August remained at 74.8% overall, 1.2% down on this time last year. The small-van sector returned the best conversion rate at 80.7% (down 0.5% on July), whilst the lowest was the 4×4 sector at 64.6%, an improvement of 5% month on month.

Used vehicles observed for sale in the wholesale market over the last month dropped by 1.5% to below 41,400 units. Nearly 46% of these vehicles were on sale for £20,000 (€23,000) or more, whilst 38.3% were on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000. At the lower end of the market, the volumes remained relatively unchanged with 12.2% of vehicles on sale between £10,000 and £5,000, and 4.2% on sale for £5,000 or less.