THE new light commercial vehicle market dropped by 8.8 per cent in December, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
It capped off a mixed year for the sector, which saw a moderate decline of 1.3 per cent. Performance in 2018 was boosted by the strong showing from pick-up and 4×4 models – up 4.3 per cent and 303.4 per cent respectively – meaning 3,548 more of them on the road compared with the previous year.
Overall registrations of 357,325 were still enough to make 2018 the fourth best year on record, beating industry forecasts, said the trade body.
Fleet buying cycles, model renewal and business uncertainty have all had an impact on the market, but the December decline represents more than half of the full-year decline of 4,824 units.
Small (less than 2.0 tonnes) and medium-sized (2.0 to 2.5-tonne) vans bore the brunt of the overall annual downturn, with full-year registrations of 25,070 and 50,956 accounting for 14.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent drops respectively. Larger vans (2.5 to 3.5 tonnes) matched their 2017 performance, with 225,891 registered – a zero per cent change on last year.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, pictured, said: ‘This sector is a key indicator of business confidence in the UK, and operators need stability to renew their fleets.
‘December’s performance was worrying, as was the overall drop in fleet purchases. Business confidence depends on the government providing the right conditions, which first and foremost means taking a no-deal Brexit off the table.
‘We have a strong and competitive commercial vehicle market in the UK – one that can flourish in the right economic climate.’