February 2002 CV registrations soar by 21.8 per cent
Total CV registrations in February
February continued the excellent start to the year set in January for UK new
CV registrations. Another strong monthly total underlined the very strong growth
momentum in the new CV market. The pace of growth, 21.8 per cent, year on year
over the six months to February continues to be a pleasant surprise. Although
February registrations are relatively small in the annual calendar, the extra
3,228 vehicles compared with the February 2001 market are significant.
‘This continues a very good start to the year,’ said Christopher Macgowan,
chief executive at the SMMT, ‘and making the seventh straight months’ growth
is particularly welcome. As much of the CV market’s business is done in the
beginning of the year, the prospects for 2002 look good.’
The sustained growth since September 2001 appears to be extending well into
the first quarter of the year. March will be a key volume month for registrations,
accounting for about 14 per cent of the annual total.
The growth trend for the year to date and over recent months suggests March
registrations will be higher than last year, possibly as high as 45,000 vehicles.
Underpinning the market’s progress has been strong growth in consumer spending
and activity across the service sectors. These are expected to remain firm,
supporting an anticipated GDP growth rate of two per cent.
At present it looks as though the whole year could be another very good one
for the UK new CV market, but some in the industry are wary of being too optimistic
Light commercial vehicle registrations
The LCV market saw the highest February registration total since 1998 when
22,081 new LCVs were registered. This was the last year of the August number
plate identifier change and since then the market has been adjusting to identifier
changes in March and September, with February and August as generally more subdued
The year on year growth of 21.8 per cent was spread across all segments of
the LCV sector, with the now typical exception of the medium van (1.8 – 2.6t
gvw) segment. Light vans to 1.8t gvw recorded growth of 33.2 per cent, a phenomenon
not seen for many years. The medium and heavy van segment continued to set the
pace with an extra 1,967 vehicles registered compared to February 2001. Car-type
pick-ups capped their run of recent good form with growth of 110.8 per cent,
albeit to 293 registrations.
New truck registrations
Growth in truck registrations dipped in February, down by 5.0 per cent compared
to the same month last year. While the overall market for rigid vehicles was
up 4.1 per cent, registrations of artics fell 22.5 per cent compared to February
Within the rigid sector there were contrasting trends across the axle configurations
and weight categories. In the two-axle category growth was strong, at 57 per
cent in the 3.5 – 7.4t gvw category, but down 17.5 per cent in the largest segment,
from 7.4 to 7.5t.
For the two-axle rigid group as a whole growth held firm at 4.1 per cent.
In contrast multi-axle rigids showed strong growth, 17.4 per cent for three-axle
rigids and 34.9 per cent for four-axle trucks.
Both two and three-axle tractor registrations fell in February, down 12.4 and
26.7 per cent respectively. For the two months to date, registrations remained
down by 7.0 per cent and more so for three-axle tractors than two-axle tractors.
New bus & coach registrations
Bus and coach registrations were up 38.2 per cent in February, almost wholly
due to a surge of 43.3 per cent in registrations of fare stage PSV. Despite
this welcome growth in the market for fare stage PSVs, the industry remains
cautious and does not expect sustained growth this year.
SMMT members expect the annual market to remain at or below 2001 volumes. Growth
in coach registrations over the past six months and the recent increase in fare
stage PSVs is welcome, but possibly not durable.