New van registrations in the UK declined 2.3% for the first six months of the year, with the fall attributed to seasonal fluctuations but also showing signs of continued Brexit uncertainty.
The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show 180,696 vans and pickups were registered in the first six months of the year. Small and large vans declined 9.6% and 4.0% respectively while mid-sized vans were up 3.4% and pickups increased 1.3%. However, the SMMT noted that demand remains at a high level, up more than a third (35.7%) on the same period five years ago. Rigids (3.5t to 6.0t) increased 28.4%.
The figures follow a 5.8% decline in registrations of new vans and pickups last month to 35,182 units. Small, medium and large-sized vans all fell, down 18.2%, 7.3% and 6.4% respectively. Meanwhile, the number of pickups joining British roads increased in June, up 4.1% to 5,019 units. Rigids were up 16.3%.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “UK van registrations have fluctuated throughout the first half of this year, reflecting variable buying cycles which are a natural feature of the market. Despite this and recognising the fact that demand is still at a historically high level, the overall trend is downwards, with Brexit uncertainty and its negative effect on business confidence threatening long-term growth.”
Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, also commented on the June figures, saying: “A fall in new van registrations isn’t surprising at this time of year, as business purchases traditionally taper off during the summer holiday period.
“In general, the market has been defined by stability this year, with neither a consistent rise or fall in registrations. That’s because LCVs continue to be key to logistics operators’ strategies – particularly in the ecommerce sector –as more products are delivered direct to homes, rather than being bought in stores.
“We’re also seeing growing interest in electric vans. With emissions zones set to be enforced across the UK, they offer a potential solution to the ‘last mile’ delivery problem. While range limitations make these vehicles unsuitable for long distance courier roles, they are perfectly suited to short hops in urban areas and could help businesses avoid the charges associated with driving in low-emissions zones.”