April 26, 2019

Best ever month for UK new LCV market

As plate-change offers drive demand, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that March was the LCV sector’s best ever monthly performance, with a year-on-year demand increase of 10.6%.

Registrations in the month accounted for almost two-thirds of the quarter’s volumes, as business buyers took advantage of new models and strong market incentives.

More than 66,000 new vans and pick-ups hit British roads in March compared with the same month in 2018, an uplift of 6,359 units. Both medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes and large vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes saw double-digit growth, with demand rising by 17.9% and 13.0% respectively. Registrations of pick-ups also rose, by 6.7%, to more than 11,000. Meanwhile small vans weighing less than 2 tonnes experienced a decline, falling -10.6%.

March rounded off a positive quarter for the sector, with demand for new LCVs up 8.9% on the same period in 2018, at 102,743 registrations.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “March is typically the busiest month of the year and it’s great to see large demand for the new ‘19 plate. While the market does fluctuate with buying cycles, it appears buyers are making the most of the fantastic deals on offer. For such exceptional demand to continue long term, however, we need business confidence to improve and that means an end to the political and economic instability besetting the UK.”

Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, also commented: “March is usually a strong month for the LCV market and this year is no exception, with the new number plate release driving demand.

“Sustained appetite for new LCVs will support the UK on its Road to Zero journey, as regular replacements keep the average age of the country’s fleet down.  With the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) coming into force next month, we’re working with customers to calculate the whole-life-cost benefits if they upgrade to newer, cleaner vehicle technology.

“Although electric vehicle technology continues to evolve, Euro 6 diesels will remain the most practical option for many LCV fleets – and they are exempt from the ULEZ charges.  Having said that, for those with relatively low mileage requirements and access to overnight charging, now is the time to consider alternative fuels, and to unlock further in-life savings on things like road tax, maintenance and fuel.”