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LCV market returns to growth with 7.1% rise in July

UK light commercial vehicle registrations saw their first month of growth since January, up 7.1% in July and supported by pent-up demand and the UK’s return to work.

More than 27,000 vans were registered in the first full month since lockdown restrictions eased

Newly released figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show some 27,701 vans were registered in the first full month since lockdown restrictions – the increase follows four months of double-digit declines.

While growth was seen in almost all categories, it was medium-sized vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes that fared particularly well; demand here was up 12.0%. Pick-ups also saw a 24.9% increase in sales.

However, light vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes saw registrations drop by 2.0%.

Heavy vans made up the lion’s share of overall sales, with 17,566 registrations, an increase of 5.4%.

Meanwhile, 4×4 demand rose 78.1% increase – but still accounts for a very small fraction of total LCV registrations.

And for the year-to-date, the picture is still one of prolonged reduced demand, with overall LCV registrations down by 38.6% for the first seven months of the year.

With August typically quiet for registrations, all eyes are on the September market to see if any recovery will be sustained longer-term.

The latest SMMT Outlook estimates that around 270,000 LCVs will be registered by the end of the year, a drop of 26.3%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With lockdown restrictions rolling back and businesses restarting operations, the van market is beginning to look more positive. Growth is likely to have been driven by pent up demand and the re-emergence of sectors such as construction.

“However, these green shoots of recovery could prove fragile given the uncertain economic situation. With new technology coming to the market and the need for operators to renew their fleets, maintaining overall business confidence will be crucial.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has nearly 20 years of fleet journalism experience, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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