Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 375,687 new light commercials were registered in 2016 – marking the fourth consecutive year of growth.
The record was achieved despite a downturn in December, when registrations fell for the fourth time in 2016. Despite the -10.4% fall, it was still the second biggest December on record after 2015's all-time record month when demand grew by 14.6%.
2016 growth was driven by pick-ups, with 47,715 leaving showrooms over the year – an uplift of 17.6%. This segment grew significantly in every month except for January, while December demand rose a notable 52.2%.
Meanwhile, demand for heavy vans weighing 2.5-3.5T was up last year by 4.8% to 232,948 units to take a 62% market share, although December registrations fell 17.3%.
In contrast, 4x4s were down 59.7% in 2016 and 93.8% for December. Other sectors seeing declines include vans under 2.0T, which fell 14.2% for the year and 29.4% in December, and vans 2.0-2.5%, which were down 2.5% in 2016 but up 23.7% in December. Overall the van sector was up 1.0% for the year but down 10.4% last month.
Meanwhile the rigid segment for 3.5T-6.0T fell 3.9% for the year overall and 17.2% in December.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Another record year for light commercial vehicles is great news, even with marginal growth, and underlines the fundamental strength of the sector. To ensure future fleet investment and growth in this important market, buyers – and manufacturers – are looking for a strong economy and business environment.”