UK light-commercial vehicle registrations decline for third month in a row

14 April 2022

light commercial vehicle

The UK’s new light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market struggles on and Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group) examines it first-quarter performance.

March is usually a huge registration month in the UK due to the introduction of the new plate. This year the fillip failed to materialise for the light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market, with a third straight month of decline. New LCV registrations fell by 27.6% compared with last year.

Registrations in March totalled 40,613 units, with first-quarter totals 23.6% down on the same point in 2021. Of these, registrations of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) totalled 1,909 units, up 17.7% on 12 months ago. BEV registrations total 4,297 units in the first quarter, up 68.9%.

All sectors declined in March. Vans below two tonnes down 70.8% year on year, with between two and 2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) fell 27.6%, and the 2.5-3.5 tonne sector – which made up nearly 72% of all vans registered in the month – contracted 18.9%. Pickups down 48.4%.

Light-commercial vehicle brands

Although LCV registrations are a quarter down after the first three months of 2022, Ford, and particularly the Ford Transit Custom, continue to dominate. The model outsells every other car and light-commercial vehicle in the UK by some distance, registering 13,833 units compared to the next best-selling model, the Vauxhall Corsa, with 9,797 units. The Ford Transit finished second in the LCV rankings and the Ford Ranger fourth. Stellantis consolidated its position, with four of its products in the top 10. The Vauxhall Vivaro was third, the Citroën Berlingo fifth, the Peugeot Partner eighth and its big brother, the Expert, ninth.

Top five LCV registrations

YTD 2022Mar 2022Mar 2021
Ford Transit Custom13,833Ford Transit Custom8,372Ford Transit Custom9,627
Ford Transit8,413Ford Transit5,130Ford Transit4,516
Vauxhall Vivaro4,757Vauxhall Vivaro3,054Volkswagen Transporter4,238
Ford Ranger4,170Ford Ranger2,274Ford Ranger3,500
Citroen Berlingo4,154Volkswagen Transporter1,859Mercedes-Benz Sprinter2,744

Stellantis leads the way in light-commercial vehicle BEV registrations. Peugeot is the only LCV manufacturer to exceed 1,000 battery-electric vehicle registrations so far this year, whilst Vauxhall accounted for 22.7% of all electric vans registered during the first quarter of 2022. The number one selling electric LCV is the Vivaro-e medium sized panel van, with over 500 units registered in March and 836 YTD.

Supply, COVID-19, inflation, and war

Although demand remains high, the light-commercial vehicle market has made a slow start to 2022, reflecting a destabilised market affected by so many complex factors. Semiconductor shortages, raw material price increases, the effects of COVID-19 on the wider supply chain, record-high energy and fuel prices, spiralling inflation and the conflict in Ukraine have all seriously impacted industry and consumer spending power. 2022 is shaping up to be a third year of severe issues and obstacles for the light-commercial vehicle market.

March recorded an 8.5% increase in stock sold at auction as many businesses neared the end of their tax year. But as average sale prices decreased by 4% to just over £10,000 (€12,000), there are signs of greater caution in the retail market as businesses make their current vehicles work harder, or look to older stock as replacements as buyers work to a tighter budget.  

Glass’s auction data shows that the overall number of vehicles sold in March increased by 8.5% versus February but was 11% lower than the same point 12 months ago. The average sales price for the month decreased by 4% but increased nearly 7.5% on March 2021.

The average age of vehicles sold during March increased by 1.7 months to 71.9 months, whilst the average mileage reduced slightly from 79,966 miles (128,692km) to 78,743 miles over the same period. The latest average mileage is 5.1% higher than 12 months ago. First time conversion rates for March fell for the fourth month running, down from 72.4% in February to 70.5%.

Used vehicles for sale in the wholesale market increased over the last month by just under three quarters of a percent to nearly 39,700 units. Just over 45.5% were on sale for over £20,000, 36.8% were on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000, 12.8% were on sale between £10,000 and £5,000, and just over 4.7% for £5,000 or less.