The UK new light commercial vehicle market fell 54.3% in March; the result of the nationwide lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The figures show that just 30,247 vans bearing the new ’20 number plate joined the roads last month, with demand down across the board.
Most segments experienced double-digit declines. Pickups and smaller vans weighing less than two tonnes fell 57.8% and 64.0% respectively. And while larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the bulk of registrations, they were down 56.0%, with 17,925 units registered. Only the small volume 4×4 sector was up, experiencing an 18.4% increase.
Year-to-date, registrations are down 33.9%, rounding off the weakest first quarter since March 2012.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The commercial vehicle market is a barometer for the wider economy so March’s decline to the lowest level in more than 20 years is stark evidence of a crisis of truly unprecedented proportions.
“There is no doubt that demand will recover once we overcome the challenge that lies ahead, however, given we do not yet know how long this will continue, government must continue to do everything possible to safeguard the sector so it is ready to help operators and the entire country get back to business when that time comes.”
Hawes also pointed out the crucial role being played by commercial vehicles during the crisis, keeping supermarket and pharmacy shelves stacked and emergency services running.
Commenting on the figures, Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “The closure of both factories and dealerships has caused major uncertainty, and until we know more it will be impossible to plan for a return to normality for a number of months.
“As light commercial vehicles currently on the road are at maximum workload delivering supplies and being operated by emergency services, it is imperative that supply of parts for repairs are maintained whilst the sales sector is closed for business.”