UK LCV market received new plate boost in March

12 April 2024


Light-commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations in the UK grew for a 15th straight month in March, boosted by the introduction of new plates. Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of J.D. Power), considers the progress with Autovista24 editor, Tom Geggus.

The UK’s new-LCV market grew by 11.1% last month with the help of the country’s plate-change effect. A total of 52,916 units took to the roads, making it the best March for LCV deliveries since 2021.

Deliveries of new LCVs under 2 tonnes gross-vehicle weight (GVW) climbed by 44.8% year on year. Vans in the weight category between 2.5-3.5 tonnes experienced growth of 16.1%, making up 67.3% of the market.

Meanwhile, registrations of pickups increased by 0.1% compared with March 2023. This meant that all but one LCV segment recorded growth. Vans between 2 and 2.5 tonnes GVW saw the only fall in March, with registrations down 3.6% year on year.

Twice a year, the numbers on UK registration plates for new vehicles change, to denote the delivery time period. Between March and August 2024, new cars and vans will feature a ‘24’ plate. Then between September and February 2025, a ‘74’ plate will be used. Many buyers will time their vehicle deliveries to take advantage of these new plates. This means an annual registration boost in the UK during March and September.

Ford secures top three

Ford recorded exceptionally strong results in March’s LCV registration table. The Transit Custom (7,809 units), Transit (4,864 units) and the Ranger pickup (2,881 units) took first, second and third respectively. In addition, the Transit Connect finished in seventh, with 1,959 units delivered. Overall, Ford accounted for 33% of all deliveries in March.

The Volkswagen (VW) Transporter (2,773 units) finished in fourth, while the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2,089 units) finished in fifth place. Stellantis saw the Vauxhall Vivaro (1,977 units) and Citroen Berlingo (1,876 units) place sixth and ninth respectively. Meanwhile, the Renault Trafic (1,903 units) claimed eighth, and the Toyota Hilux (1,711 units) took 10th.

Operators boost electric LCV uptake

March saw more operators than ever add battery-electric LCVs to their fleets. A total of 2,906 units were registered, up 14.7% year on year, capturing 5.5% of the market. This is a stark contrast to the sector’s performance in February when registrations of this technology declined by 12.3%.

In the first quarter, the powertrain accounted for 5.2% of registrations, just a 0.1 percentage point improvement on the first three months of 2023. This illustrates a market which is struggling to integrate battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) into everyday business.

Both incentives and the installation of a dedicated LCV-suitable network of public chargers are imperative to help boost BEV sales in the LCV market. Short on confidence, fleets, small businesses and sole traders need this help to make the switch. Manufacturers need the support so they can meet this year’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate.

March saw Peugeot charge to the top of the battery-electric van market, delivering 879 units and accounting for 30.2% of all-electric registrations. Vauxhall recorded 362 deliveries and a 12.5% market share. Then came Renault with 357 units and 12.3% of the market. VW ended the month in fourth with 330 units (11.4% share) and Ford was fifth with 265 units (9.1% share).

By product range, Peugeot registered 812 eExpert medium vans in March. This was over twice as many as the Renault Kangoo E-Tech, which placed second with 357 units. The VW ID.Buzz Cargo came third with 330 units, then the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric took fourth with 246 units. The Ford E-Transit finished fifth in March, with 208 units.

An additional 98 electric LCVs weighing more than 3.5 tonnes GVW were delivered by Ford, Fiat, Maxus and Mercedes-Benz in the month. This meant all-electric van registrations totalled 3,004 units overall.

Between January and March, electric-LCVs made up 17.1% of Peugeot’s sales. This puts the company on track to meet its ZEV mandate target of 10% zero-emission LCV sales for 2024. Renault is close, with 9.1% of its LCV sold emitting no C02 at the tailpipe. Meanwhile, Maxus (8.6%), Nissan (8.1%) Vauxhall (7.3%) and VW (7.1%) all edged closer to the mandated target.

Supply and demand aligned

March recorded a steady level of stock availability in the used-LCV market, with supply and demand generally well-aligned. The market did slow slightly over the Easter period as buyers took time off. The stock profile did remain relatively steady, however.

The sales volume remained static in March. Euro 6 models made up nearly three-quarters of this, with an average age of 53.2 months. Average mileage remained relatively unchanged at just under 73,300 miles (118,000km), with an average selling price of £9,825 (€11,515), down £175 on February.

Used electric vans made up nearly 1.7% of all sales at auction, down 0.3% on February, with an average age of 60.4 months. Average mileage hit just over 37,700 miles with an average sales price up £100 from February at £5,000. Euro 5 models made up the remaining 24.8% of sales.

Used-LCV prices down

The volume of used-van sales remained static in March. Average prices fell by 3.5% over the month and were nearly 17% lower than those recorded in March 2023. The average age of vehicles sold increased from 77.3 months to 78.9 months. However, this was 3.1 months less than 12 months ago. A slight increase of 0.1% in average mileage was also recorded, up from 80,938 miles to 81,045 miles. This figure was 4.1% lower than March 2023.

Medium vans were once again the most-sold vehicle type at auction. These LCVs accounted for 34% of all auction sales. Large vans accounted for 26.7% of sales and small vans 26.6%. Volumes of 4x4 stock accounted for only 10.7% but attracted the strongest average price of £12,253. However, this was down £845 from February 2024.

Large vans covered the greatest distances at an average of 90,195 miles. This was down 1,725 miles on February and more than 2,125 miles lower than in March 2023.

First-time conversion rates fell last month to 76.4% from 78.8% in February. When looking deeper into the data, small panel vans saw the best conversion rates at 79.2% (down from 82.3% in February). Meanwhile, large vans returned the lowest conversion rate at 73.7%.

Used LCVs observed for sale in the retail market last month increased by 0.5% to just under 43,350 units. A total of 42.2% of all vehicles on sale were valued at £20,000 or more, while 38.1% 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 claimed 15.5% of the market. Some 4.2% were on sale for less than £5,000. The average age of these vehicles remained steady at 57 months, while average mileage fell by 2.2% to just over 59,750 miles.

Never miss a developing trend

Find out now