The new light commercial vehicle market grew by 85.5% in March with 56,122 vans joining UK roads with the ’21 new number plate.
But the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which published the figures, said the rise was “Covid-contrived” due to the low base of comparison in March 2020 and that the total registrations represented a 20-year low for the market. Volumes in March were actually down 10.9% compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 average.
Demand in March was up across all van segments, but particularly strong in the large vans (2.5t-3.5t) sector, which doubled (101.0%) to 36,032 vehicles.
Year-to-date, a total of 97,356 light commercial vehicles were registered in the first quarter of 2021, up 43.4% on 2020, but down 1.0% when compared to a five-year average taken before the pandemic hit.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Although a marked improvement on last year’s March numbers, these figures illustrate the impact Covid has had on the sector and how far away the van market is from the growth it was enjoying before the pandemic hit. However, as the country emerges from lockdown, vaccinations continue to roll out, and non-essential businesses reopen, the added confidence will hopefully help shift the gears from recovery to growth for the van market.”