The UK new van market recorded its best-ever month in March as the plate change helped drive demand.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data shows van registrations last month rose by 10.6% to 66,123 units, accounting for almost two-thirds of the quarter’s volumes, as business buyers took advantage of new models and strong market incentives.
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%.
For the first three months of the year, demand for new LCVs was up 8.9% on the same period in 2018, at 102,743 registrations. Major growth was seen in the 2.5-3.5 tonne van sector, which was up 10.4%, while the 2.0-2.5 tonne sector was up 8.9%.
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, said of the figures: “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. Finding cost-effective ways to keep businesses on the road is key to supporting the country’s economy.
“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.”