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Van registrations rise in October but sector remains turbulent

New van and pick-up registrations increased in October but the market remains down for the year to date due to operator uncertainty.

Best Pick-up: Nissan Navara
Demand for pick-ups rose 3.2% in October and 4.5% for the first 10 months of the year

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show overall van and pick-up registrations were up 14.1% to 28,494 units in October.

The growth was driven by a rise in demand for large vans weighing 2.5-3.5t, up 27.6% and taking a 70.1% share of the market. Meanwhile demand for pick-ups increased 3.2%.

In contrast, small and medium-sized vehicles both experienced declines, down 24.9% and 14.8% respectively.

The rise follows months of fluctuating registrations caused by variations in fleet buying cycles and business confidence, borne out by year-to-date figures, which show 302,741 new LCVs have been registered, representing a drop of 1.6% on the first 10 months of 2017, and in line with current forecasts.

The SMMT spotlighted that demand remains at a high level, up a third (33.0%) on the same period in 2013, but warned that conditions remain tough.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “While it is positive to see a boost for new vans in October, the growth comes on the back of a turbulent 10 months, with ongoing fluctuations in demand. Although the sector remains strong, we expect this trend to play out over the remainder of the year, as ongoing political uncertainty affects business confidence and hence operator investment.”

Russell Adams, commercial vehicle manager at Lex Autolease, said October’s figures show how new commercial vehicles remain an essential requirement for fleet operators.

“The cost of having a van off the road is a minimum of £500 a day, meaning that maintaining older vehicles often becomes a false economy. The increase in year on year van registrations in October is testament to that fact,” he continued.

“Businesses are considering how best to reduce their emissions, whether by upgrading to the latest Euro 6 diesel engines for high mileage users or investigating how electric vehicles can support different job roles. 65 percent of our conversations with operators are now focused on how and when they can incorporate electric vehicles into their fleets.

“New commercial vehicles remain an essential requirement for fleet operators. The cost of having a van off the road is a minimum of £500 a day, meaning that maintaining older vehicles often becomes a false economy. The increase in year on year van registrations in October is testament to that fact.

“Businesses are considering how best to reduce their emissions, whether by upgrading to the latest Euro 6 diesel engines for high mileage users or investigating how electric vehicles can support different job roles. 65 percent of our conversations with operators are now focused on how and when they can incorporate electric vehicles into their fleets.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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