Order books full but UK new commercial vehicles registrations still fell in May

21 June 2022

Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group), analyses the UK’s used-commercial vehicle and new light-commercial vehicle (LCV) markets

The downward trend for the UK new light-commercial vehicle market continued for the fifth straight month in May, with registrations falling 25.1% year on year. Although set against a record in May 2021, registration levels were still 21.5% down on the pre-pandemic average.

While order books are full, shortages of key components are restricting production and hampering new-vehicle deliveries.

These delays have caused van operators and owners to keep hold of their vehicles for longer, as is reflected in the latest 2021 Motorparc report. This shows the LCV parc has risen by 4.3% to over 4.8 million. This total includes just under 27,000 electric vans (0.6%).

This indicates that although both internal-combustion engine (ICE) cars and vans have the same end-of-sale date, the take-up of electric LCVs is approximately two years behind that of passenger cars, with nearly 60% of existing van owners more likely to switch if there were more public-charging points or better government incentives, noted Picton.

For the third month in a row, all sectors recorded falls in registrations. Vans below 2.0 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) declined 53.4%, whilst vans between 2.0-2.5t GVW vans fell 33.4%. The 2.5-3.5 tonne sector – which made up over 72.0% of all vans registered in the month – dropped 19.4%, whilst the pickup sector returned a 26.9% fall.

May LCV registrations totalled 22,000 units exactly, against 29,354 units 12 months ago. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) totalled 869 units (up 46.5% on 2021) and represented 4% of all new vans registered during the month. Year-to-date (YTD) registrations of 117,941 units were 25% down on the same period in 2021. YTD BEV registrations amounted to 6,085 units, accounting for 5.2% of the overall LCV market. This figure is up 62.7% on YTD 2021.

Ford continues to deliver, according to Picton, registering 59.5% of the top-10 models to hit the road in May. The Transit Custom was again first, registering 3,244 units, the Ford Transit was second with 2,851 units, the Ford Ranger fifth with 1,115 units and the Ford Transit Connect eighth with 719 units.

The Vauxhall Vivaro, Citroën Relay and Citroën Dispatch from Stellantis finished in fourth (1,211 units), ninth (632 units) and tenth (618 units) respectively. Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen filled the remaining top-10 positions.

The Vauxhall Vivaro-e remains the best-selling electric van in the UK, with 212 units registered in May and 1,424 YTD.

Top-five LCV registrations

YTD 2022 May 2022 May 2021 
Ford Transit Custom20,434Ford Transit Custom3,244Ford Transit Custom4,065
Ford Transit14,251Ford Transit2,851Ford Transit2,401
Vauxhall Vivaro7,436Mercedes-Benz Sprinter1,256Volkswagen Transporter1,872
Ford Ranger6,373Vauxhall Vivaro1,211Vauxhall Vivaro1,801
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter6,363Ford Ranger1,115Mercedes-Benz Sprinter1,597

Sales of used stock at auction remained near unchanged in May, with only 27 less units sold during the month. Businesses continue to work their existing vehicles harder, under pressure from spiralling costs and ever-increasing fuel prices.

Used-stock shortages

Glass’s auction data shows that the overall number of vehicles sold decreased by 1% versus April and was over 33% lower than the same point 12 months ago. The average sales price for the month increased by 0.8% as a shortage of quality stock forced prices up and was still over 6.3% higher than in May 2021.

The average age of vehicles sold during May decreased by 0.1 months to 76.1 months, whilst the average mileage increased from 81,893 miles to 83,679 over the same period. The latest average mileage is over 4,850 miles higher than a year ago. First-time conversion rates for May rose from 68.7% in April to 69.4%. This was the first increase in conversion rates in five months.

Used vehicles observed for sale in the wholesale market over the last month remained relatively static with a 0.7% increase to nearly 40,650 units. Just over 46.1% were on sale for in excess of £20,000 (€23,245), 37.7% on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000, 12.2% on sale between £10,000 and £5,000 and just over 4% for £5,000 or less.

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