UK light commercial vehicle registrations returned to a decline in August; believed to be the result of businesses waiting until the plate change.
Van and pickup registrations had risen 7.1% in July – the first month of growth since January – but fell 16.1% to 19,407 units in August, which is typically a quiet month ahead of the arrival of the new September plate.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data showed declines were recorded in all classes of vehicles, notably vans weighing more than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes (down 18.2%) and vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes (down 35.0%).
As a result of August’s fall, year-to-date sales are down 36.4%, equivalent to almost 90,000 units.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “August is traditionally a quiet month as fleets wait for the new September plate, so even small volume declines can look big in percentage terms.
“However, with this sector particularly sensitive to the economic outlook, which remains uncertain, we urgently need measures to restore operator confidence to invest and renew their fleets – vital for achieving the Government’s environmental and air quality goals.”
Lex Autolease also highlighted how LCVs will play a critical part in the UK’s long-term green recovery – and called for businesses to make the switch to electric ahead of the arrival of charging Clean Air Zones in a host of UK cities.
Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager, said that when deployed correctly, an alternatively fuelled LCV can deliver cost savings and increased reliability.
“As the country heads towards a net-zero emissions future, early adopters of the technology can get ahead of the curve and maximise the cost and environmental benefits,” he continued.
Adams added that Lex is already working closely with customers to help them identify where electric vans can be most sensibly and easily introduced into their business.
“The key is to identify the tipping point between new models entering the market, advances in battery technology and charging infrastructure versus the practical demands of their day-to-day operations,” he outlined.
“For vans weighing 3.5t and above, the cleanest diesel technology is still the most practical option, whereas, in the lighter ranges, the transition to electric can be more favourable. The most challenging aspect has been waiting for the right vehicles to become available on the market. As we start to see more and more OEMs introduce new models, I believe van operators are becoming more engaged to make the switch from ICE vehicles to electric.
“Ultimately, a van is a tool to do a job and, in these times more than ever, operators need their vans to be out on the roads making money, while keeping costs to a minimum.”