Semiconductor shortages continue to constrict UK LCV market in September

12 October 2021

As supply issues continue to blight the UK light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market, Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group), studies developments in the new and used markets during September.

The new LCV market declined by 39.5% last month as severe semiconductor supply shortages impacted production. A total of 31,535 new LCVs hit UK roads, making it the worst September since 2009. This was 20,561 units down on a COVID-19-impacted September in 2020, and 41.8% down on the September pre-pandemic five-year average of 54,207 units.

Demand for new commercial-vehicles (CVs) remains strong, but shortages of semiconductors and raw materials have affected manufacturing in the UK and abroad. Production was down 35.1% in August compared to 2020, with supply-chain challenges expected to last through most of 2022.

In September, registrations declined in all sectors except 4x4s. The pickup market was down 48.3%, vans under 2.0 -tonne were down 54.6%, vans between 2.0-2.5 tonnes decreased by 70.1%, while vans in the 2.5-3.5 tonne sector, which made up 71.8% of all vans registered in September, fell by 28%.

Another strong month for Ford saw four of their product ranges feature in the top 10 registrations for September. The Transit Custom was first, making up 17% of all vehicles registered in the month. The Transit was second, the Ranger pickup fifth and the Transit Connect 10th. The Toyota Hilux pickup was fourth, and the Renault Trafic was sixth.

Year-to-date, the 267,236 units registered is 28.4% (59,156 units) higher than in 2020 but is down 5.9% on the 283,883 unit average between 2015 and 2019. Vauxhall is the UK’s best-selling electric LCV manufacturer, selling 1,828 units to date.

Top five LCV registration

ModelYTD 2021ModelSep 2021ModelSep 2020
Ford Transit Custom39,503Ford Transit Custom5,366Ford Transit Custom8,437
Ford Transit24,898Ford Transit3,335Ford Transit3,764
Volkswagen Transporter17,478Mercedes-Benz Sprinter2,626Ford Ranger3,744
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter17,345Toyota Hilux1,790Volkswagen Transporter2,937
Ford Ranger14,855Ford Ranger1,740Vauxhall Vivaro2,825
Data source: SMMT

Although new registrations for 2021 have been strong so far, there is still a concern in the automotive industry, with many manufacturers continuing to highlight delays and shortages for Q4. COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing supply chain shortages continue to affect vehicle production, with deliveries for many now delayed until the second half of 2022.

Less used stock

Average auction prices rose by nearly 6% in September, highlighting supply shortages and huge demand in the used LCV market. With production and raw-material issues resulting in extended lead-in times for new vehicles, many of the expected de-fleets have not happened or have been delayed, resulting in less stock in the used market.

With volumes of new stock entering this sector expected to remain low for the rest of the year, and shortages likely to persist well into 2022, used prices look set to remain high for some time yet.

Glass’s auction data shows that the overall number of used vehicles sold in September increased by 13.2% versus August but was still 6.9% lower than 12 months ago.

Average sales prices paid increased by nearly 6% versus August and stand 22.3% higher than at the same point last year. The average age of vehicles sold decreased slightly from 73.9 months in August to 73.8 months in September, whilst the average mileage increased from 77,249 miles to 79,171 over the same period. The latest average mileage is 8,714 miles (+11.0%) higher than in September 2020.

Medium-sized vans were again the most popular at auction, accounting for 38.2% of all sales in September, whilst the highest proportion of all LCVs sold (32%) was in the ‘over six-years-old’ age bracket.

In more than 35,000 used vehicles observed for sale in the wholesale market, 49.1% were on sale for in excess of £20,000 (€23,584), 34.2% were on sale for between £10,000 and £20,000, 11.4% were on sale between £10,000 and £5,000 and 5.3% for £5,000 or less.