UK light-commercial vehicle registrations suffer again in February

15 March 2022

The stuttering 2022 start to the UK’s new light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market continued in February, with new registrations declining 6% year on year. Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group) examines the latest results.

Registrations totalled 16,165 units last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with a number of factors impacting the figures. The entire automotive industry is still struggling to overcome a shortage of semiconductors. Rising raw-material and energy costs, together with a fleet market that is slowly making the switch to zero-emission vehicles, means the LCV market is struggling. Year-to-date, the market is 18.2% down on 2021.

However, the desire to switch to zero-emission vehicles has seen demand for the technology increase rapidly. In February, 1,741 units registered were battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), up a staggering 347.6% on 12 months ago. Year-to-date, BEV registrations are up 159%, with 2,338 units. Amongst manufacturers, Peugeot has registered over 1,000 BEVs so far in 2022, with the technology taking over a 50% share of the brand’s deliveries in February.

Ford Transit remains market leader

All sectors, except 4×4 vehicles and vans between 2.0-2.5 tonnes, returned year-on-year falls in February. Vans below 2.0 tonnes declined 52.2%, while vans in the 2.5-3.5 tonne sector – which made up nearly 66% of all vans registered in the month – fell by 9.9%. Pickups also declined by 36%. The market for vans between 2.0-2.5 tonnes recorded a 36.9% increase.

Ford continued its strong start to the year, with the Transit Custom and Transit in first and second place, respectively. The Ford Ranger was ninth, giving the manufacturer three entries in the top-ten vehicles for the month. Stellantis performed very well in February, with six of its products in the top ten. Citroen saw the Berlingo and the Dispatch finish in third and seventh, Peugeot finished with the Partner and Expert in fourth and fifth respectively, whilst the Vauxhall Vivaro finished in eighth and the Combo in tenth.

Top five LCV registrations

YTD 2022Feb 2022Feb 2021
Ford Transit Custom5,461Ford Transit Custom2,647Ford Transit2,699
Ford Transit3,283Ford Transit1,668Ford Transit Custom1,979
Citroen Berlingo2,483Citroen Berlingo1,588Mercedes-Benz Sprinter1,375
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter2,473Peugeot Partner1,404Peugeot Partner945
Peugeot Partner2,056Peugeot Expert977Vauxhall Combo860
Source: SMMT

Although the SMMT is hopeful that LCV registrations will be back to pre-pandemic levels this year, there are concerns that the ongoing supply shortages and ever-increasing cost-of-living challenges could result in further destabilisation and market unpredictability. In addition, the conflict in Ukraine is likely to add another layer of complexity, with further increases in raw-material costs, supply-chain disruptions and the suspension of production.

Older used vans appearing at auction

Used vehicles observed for sale in the wholesale market over the last month increased by 3.5% to nearly 39,400 units. Just under 45% are on sale for in excess of £20,000 (€24,000), 37.6% for between £20,000 and £10,000, 13.3% between £10,000 and £5,000, and 4.7% for £5,000 or less.

Auction data from Glass’s (part of Autovista Group) shows February recorded a 3% increase in sold stock at auction compared to January, with the average sale price increasing by 1.4% to over £10,400. However, sales were 3% lower than 12 months ago, while average sales prices are nearly 13% down on February 2021.

Driven by deferred vehicle replacements, the current used-stock profile is older, with higher miles and correspondingly poorer conditions. With auction houses confirming that general stock levels increased over the month and the prospect of increased preparation costs, there is more caution from trade buyers.

The average age of vehicles sold during February decreased by 2.2 months to 70.2 months, whilst the average mileage increased slightly from 79,489 miles to 79,966 miles. The latest average mileage is 1.9% higher than 12 months ago. First-time conversion rates fell for the third month running, down from 73.1% in January to 72.4% in February.

LCVs over six years old accounted for nearly 38% of all vehicles sold at auction, whilst only 8.9% were under two years old. Vehicles between 2-4 years old made up 28.9%. Medium-sized vans continue to be the most popular at auction, accounting for 36.5% of all sales during the month.