March 2002 CV registrations down 6.2%
Total CV registrations in March
March figures completed a first quarter where registrations stayed 2.6 per
cent ahead on the total for the same period in 2001. The growth was in January
and February rather than March. The 39,273 registrations in March were 6.2 per
cent short of last March and closer to the March 1999 total of 39,409.
‘Even with the modest downturn last month, we expect the year’s CV registrations
will still be near or above the long term average,’ said SMMT chief executive
Christopher Macgowan. ‘Car type pick-ups, 4×4 utilities and Micro vans all bucked
the trend, showing good growth.’
The shortfall relative to March 2001 was broadly based, with a few notable
though low volume exceptions, like 4×4 utilities and pick-ups.
This year’s Easter break meant two days less for processing registrations and
this may have affected the comparison. March is a key month in the annual registration
calendar and since the biannual age identifier (March and September) was introduced
in 1999, generally takes over 12 per cent of annual registrations.
Slower economic growth and an increase in interest rates are expected to inhibit
sales growth this year, but the timing and extent of the change is uncertain.
Most analysts expect a slightly weaker market for 2002 as a whole, but the outlook
still is positive, particularly with the US economy clearly recovering.
Annual CV registrations should remain well above the 298,500 average for the
1998 to 2001 period despite the presence of some economic and market uncertainties.
Light commercial vehicle registrations
LCV registrations fell by 1,963 or 5.5 per cent in March. However, three low
volume segments in the market up to 3.5t gvw recorded some growth. Car type
pick-ups shot up 117.2 per cent to 1,514. 4×4 utilities were up 24.9 per cent
to 1,692. Micro van registrations were up 12.9 per cent to 603.
Very strong demand in the 2.6 to 3.5 tonne heavy van registrations has driven
the overall market forward recently with 14 straight months’ growth at an average
of about 18 per cent until March, when 17,900 registrations represented a fall
of 6.1 per cent. This segment has been at the centre of the recent changes in
the UK van market, in 1997 heavy vans took 58.1 per cent of all LCV registrations,
by 2001 the share was up to 65.5 per cent.
New truck registrations
As in February, growth in truck registrations dipped again in March, down 11.4
per cent following the 5.0 per cent drop in February. The total rigid market
was down by 9.3 per cent and artic registrations fell 16.1 per cent following
a 22.5 per cent drop in February. For the first quarter all truck registrations
were down by 4.6 per cent, just 1.7 per cent for rigids and 10.9 per cent for
Within the rigid sector there were only a few contrasts to this March’s lower
registration trend across the axle configurations and weight categories. Two-axle
7.501 to 12t rigids were up 36.5 per cent to 142 registrations. The 3.501 to
7.5t category saw 450 registrations, growth of 6.1 per cent. Four-axle rigids
also grew 8.0 per cent to 345.
Two and three-axle tractor registrations again fell in March, down by 33.7
and 7.0 per cent respectively. For the three months to date, registrations remained
down by 14.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent for two and three-axle tractors respectively.
New bus & coach registrations
March bus and coach registrations were down 3.1 per cent to 403, following
February’s near 40 per cent growth. Overall the 1,066 first quarter registrations
are 7 per cent up. Growth over the 2000 and 2001 quarters was due to coaches,
up by 39.6 per cent to 342 vehicles. Fare stage PSVs totalled 724, modestly
down by just 0.4 per cent. The industry remains cautions, not expecting sustained
growth this year.