Growth in September for UK LCV market but at very low level

18 October 2022

Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s (part of Autovista Group), looks at the latest developments in the UK’s new and used light-commercial vehicle (LCV) market.

Coinciding with the usual new number-plate launch in September, the UK’s new LCV market rose 10.8%, marking the first month of growth in 2022. This performance needs to be put into perspective though as last September’s registrations were the lowest for the month since the 2009 recession. Last month’s achievements were still some 35.5% below the five-year pre-pandemic average of 54,207 units.

There were 34,950 new LCV registrations in September. Of those, 4.4% or 1,550 were battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), up by 70% on 2021. Year-to-date (YTD) registrations of 213,576 units were 20.1% down on the same point in 2021. YTD BEV registrations stood at 11,359 units and made up 5.3% of the overall LCV market. This figure is up 52.9% on 2021. The Vauxhall Vivaro-e remains the best-selling electric van with 3,010 units registered YTD.

Compared with September 2021, registrations of vans between 2-2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) increased by 40.8%, while vans in the 2.5-3.5 tonne sector – which made up 73.8% of all vans registered in the month – rose by 13.9%. The pickup sector returned a 13.7% decline and vans below two tonnes fell by 21.5%.

Looking at specific model ranges, Ford continued in the top three places, with the Transit Custom, Transit, and Ranger respectively. The Ford Transit Connect was seventh with 1,588 units registered. The Stellantis duo of Vauxhall Vivaro and Peugeot Expert were fourth and 10th (1,055 units) respectively, while the remaining top-10 positions were claimed by the Volkswagen Transporter (fifth), the Renault Trafic (sixth), the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (eighth), and Volkswagen Crafter (ninth).

Despite strong order books for 2022, the supply of new vehicles continues to be a challenge. With rising costs and component shortages continuing to test the market, UK new-van registrations for the year to date sit 24.8% below the pre-pandemic five-year average of 283,883 units. With supply shortages expected to continue well into next year, any recovery of the new LCV market remains some way off.

Used-LCV market declines

Although the month started brightly with strong conversion rates, by the end of the month, uncertainty in the UK economy was starting to influence used-LCV sales.

Glass’s data shows the overall number of vehicles sold at auction decreased by 7.9% versus August and was 19.1% lower than at the same point 12 months ago. The most popular sector was medium vans, accounting for 39.1% of all auction sales. The average sales price for the month decreased by 0.51% and was 5.1% lower than in September 2021. The strongest average sales prices were paid for stock in the 4×4 sector.

The average age of vehicles sold during September increased by 3.2 months to 75.6 months, while the average mileage increased to 82,092 miles (132,114km) from 78,844 in August. The latest average mileage is over 2,900 miles more than 12 months ago. First-time conversion rates for September improved by 4.8% to 79.6% but were 1.3% down on this time last year. The small-van sector returned the best conversion rate at 83.7% (up 3% on August), while the weakest performing was the 4×4 sector at 71.9%, albeit, this was a 7.3% improvement month on month.

Used vehicles for sale in the wholesale market over the last month dropped by nearly 1.75% to almost 40,700 units. Just over 46% of these vehicles were on sale for £20,000 (€23,184) or more, while 37.7% were on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000. At the lower end of the market, the volumes remained relatively unchanged with 12.5% of vehicles on sale between £10,000 and £5,000, and 4% on sale for £5,000 or less.