UK new van registrations fell 5.6% last month as looming clean air zone plans and diesel uncertainty impacted on business confidence.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data shows that just under 60,000 new LCVs were registered, with a 1.8% rise in demand for smaller vans and 6.8% increase in pickup registrations failing to offset declines for medium (-2.0%) and heavier (-10.5%) models.
For the first three months of the year, registrations were down 3.7% compared to Q1 2017, reaching a total of 94,374. The bulk of the decline was in the market for vans weighing >2.5-3.5 tonnes.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “A decline in the important plate change month of March is a concern and we need the right economic conditions to restore market stability and encourage buyers to invest in new commercial vehicles. The new van market is a key barometer of business confidence and while uncertainty remains, a degree of fluctuation in demand is to be expected this year.”
Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, added: “A big factor in the slowdown is that businesses are taking a lot more time over their purchasing decisions. Political uncertainty and looming tax and regulatory change has undoubtedly encouraged businesses to pause for thought, but the increasing amount of choice available in the market is just as much a factor.
“Across the board, we’re seeing enquiries focus far more on whole-life cost, which in turn, is causing businesses to consider when and how ULEVs could play a role for them as well. “