October LCV registrations hit decade low in UK

10 November 2022


Both the UK’s new and used light-commercial vehicle (LCV) markets have seen a turbulent 2022 so far. Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group), examines October’s figures.

The UK’s new LCV market declined by 18.4% year on year in October, with registrations for the month at their lowest since 2012 and 16.5% below the five-year pre-pandemic average of 26,799 units.

There were 22,386 new-LCV registrations in October, down from 27,420 units 12 months ago. Of those, 7.6% or 1,706 were battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Year-to-date (YTD) registrations of 235,962 units were down 19.9% on the same period in 2021. YTD BEV registrations stood at 13,065 units and made up 5.5% of the overall LCV market, up 52.9% on 2021.

Compared with October 2021, every weight sector recorded declines. Registrations of vans below a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 2 tonnes fell 80.7%. Vans between 2-2.5 tonnes GVW declined 50.7%, while those in the 2.5-3.5 tonne sector – which made up 77.1% of all LCV registrations in the month – recorded a 7.6% drop. Pickups saw registrations return a 27.8% increase, a welcome surprise.

Looking at specific model ranges, Ford took the top two places, with the Transit Custom and Transit respectively. The Ford Ranger came in fifth while the Transit Connect was tenth with 716 units. The German duo of Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter claimed third and fourth spots. The Renault Trafic came in sixth with 1,048 units. The Peugeot Expert (1,011 units), Vauxhall Vivaro (992 units) and Vauxhall Movano (752 units) from Stellantis were seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.

The Vauxhall Vivaro-e remains the best-selling electric van with 3,254 units registered YTD. Stellantis as a group registered over 70% of all BEVs in the medium-van sector, and nearly 50% of all small electric vans. Meanwhile, Ford dominated the large electric-van market with nearly half of all registrations YTD.

Despite strong order books for 2022, operating conditions remain challenging. Manufacturers continue to invest in zero-emission van models. As a result, growing numbers of van buyers are opting for green alternatives, to lower their carbon footprint while also benefitting from lower taxation, purchase incentives, and urban-zone charge exemptions. 

However, rising costs and component shortages continue to hamper the supply of new vehicles into the UK. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has again revised its 2022 LCV registration forecast down, this time to 290,000 units. This is the fourth consecutive downward quarterly forecast revision, endorsing the market turbulence and confirming that any recovery of the new-LCV market remains some way off.

Reduced used-LCV visibility

The used-LCV market has come under pressure during 2022, as a lack of new-vehicle supply and resulting fleet extensions have reduced availability. But older and higher-mileage vehicles are starting to dominate at auction, and the overall market is showing signs of resilience as first-time conversion rates have increased for the fifth month in a row.

Glass’s data shows that the overall number of LCVs sold at auction increased by 1.7% versus September but was 11% lower than the same point 12 months ago. The medium-van sector was the most popular, accounting for 38.2% of all auction sales. Meanwhile, stock in the 4x4 sector attracted the strongest average sales prices at £14,200.

The average age of vehicles sold in October increased by 0.6 months to 78.9 months, while the average mileage increased to 82,541 miles from 80,953 in September. The latest average mileage is nearly 900 miles more than 12 months ago. First-time conversion rates for October improved by 4% to 79.7%. The small-van sector returned the best conversion rate at 84% (up 4.2% on September), while 4x4 was the weakest performing sector at 72.6%, a 1.3% improvement.

Used vehicles available on the wholesale market in October dropped by 0.25% to just over 40,500 units. An increase of roughly 47% of all vehicles were on sale for £20,000 or more, while 36.7% were on offer for between £20,000 and £10,000. At the lower end of the market, the volumes remained relatively unchanged with 12.9% of vehicles on sale for between £10,000 and £5,000 and 4% on sale for £5,000 or less.