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Van registrations fall as supply issues hit

Light commercial vehicle registrations, which include most vans and pickup trucks, dropped by nearly 30% in April, compared to the year before.

According to official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 21,597 vehicles were registered in April, a drop from 2021’s record 30,440 registrations.

Even allowing for last year’s post-lockdown boom, registrations still sit more than 12% down from pre-pandemic levels.

The Ford Transit Custom continues to be a customer favourite, topping the sales charts again. Its pickup cousin, the Ford Ranger, was also the best selling pickup truck, a position it's held for some years.

The fall in registrations doesn’t reflect a drop in demand, however, which remains strong across all segments. Instead, it’s continuing supply chain pressures locally and globally, including the well-known semiconductor shortage, that is hampering deliveries.

War in Ukraine is exacerbating the problem, with many vehicle component factories in the beleaguered nation shutting down to protect the safety of their employees.

Covid continues to be a problem to the industry as well, seeing suppliers across the world take temporary measures to protect their workers, from reducing capacity to enforced lockdowns.

The result has seen deliveries of small and medium vans suffer, dropping by 48% from last year's peak. Large vans, which account for most sales, saw new registrations fall by nearly 20%.

The pickup sector is also struggling to keep up with demand, as Ford, Isuzu and Toyota battle against supply chain problems to keep production moving. Despite resilient demand, new model registrations fell by 44% to just 2,315 in April 2022.

One glimmer of hope comes from the electric van sector, which saw registrations rise by 52.7%, albeit from a relatively low figure of 602 registrations to 919. Year to date, the electric van market share has more than doubled from 2.5% to 5.4% - or one in 24 new vans.

Continued instability in supply has led to the SMMT lowering its expectations for 2022, with the automotive body now expecting a 7.7% fall over the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, 

“Despite the global supply pressures on the UK’s light commercial vehicle sector, manufacturers are prioritising the most popular models, while investing in electric options where demand is slowly but steadily growing. Constrained supply, however, does mean that 2022’s new van market is expected to be down on last year’s bumper uptake.
“Even so, while market conditions remain challenging for van operators across the UK, now is the time for those looking to renew their fleets to put their orders in, as interest rates remain historically low and an increasing range of fuel-efficient and electrified models are now available.”

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