LCVs Registrations SMMT News

New van market still playing catch-up, despite Covid-contrived rise

06 April 2021 #LCVs #Registrations #SMMT News
  • 56,122 vans registered in March, up 85.5% albeit compared to first month of 2020 Covid outbreak, a 20-year low for the market.
  • Volumes down -10.9% on pre-Covid five-year average1 and behind industry expectations.2
  • Demand up across the board as all segments see boost, with growth driven by doubled registrations of larger vans.
  • Performance year to date slightly below pre-pandemic levels, down -1.0% on five-year average as 98,354 vans registered in the first quarter of the year.3



The new light commercial vehicle market grew by 85.5% in March with 56,122 vans joining UK roads with the ’21 new number plate, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Usually one of the busiest months of the year, March saw the largest ever increase since the switch to the two plate system in 1999, but one which still represented an -10.9% decrease when compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 average, as prolonged nationwide lockdown continued to suppress business confidence in the first quarter of the year.

Despite all segments experiencing higher demand, total registrations fell a little short of industry expectations as the latest forecast predicted 360,000 LCVs registered by end of the year. Overall, growth was led by an increase in larger van registrations, as vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the majority of the month’s figures, doubling (101.0%) to 36,032 vehicles.

97,356 light commercial vehicles were registered in the first quarter of 2021, up 43.4% on 2020, but down -1.0% when compared to a five-year average taken before the pandemic hit.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Although a marked improvement on last year’s March numbers, these figures illustrate the impact Covid has had on the sector and how far away the van market is from the growth it was enjoying before the pandemic hit. However, as the country emerges from lockdown, vaccinations continue to roll out, and non-essential businesses reopen, the added confidence will hopefully help shift the gears from recovery to growth for the van market.

Notes to editors

1. 2015-19 March average: 63,002
3. 2015-2019 Q1 average: 98,354

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