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LCV sales rise for 17th month in a row but SMMT warns over electric uptake

  • Seventeen month of growth in LCV market as volumes rise 1.9%
  • Best May since record-breaking 2021, says SMMT
  • Battery-electric vehicle uptake rises but market still short of targets

Time 12:25 pm, June 5, 2024

The UK’s new LCV market saw registrations rise by 1.9% last month versus May 2023 to reach 25,853 units, the SMMT said today.

It was the 17th month of growth in a row and was the best May performance since 2021, which recorded the best market for the month in history at 29,354 units when business investment in commercial vehicles speeded up following the pandemic.

Volume growth was mainly driven by an 8.1% increase in uptake of vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes to 4,477 units.

Vans weighing less than two tonnes enjoyed the largest proportional growth at 55.7% to 730 units, although it’s a volatile segment because of low volumes.

The 4×4 market, which also has small volume variations, fell by 15% to 523, while pick-ups grew by 4.1% to 3,081.

Meanwhile, vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes made up most of the market, although there was a slight decline of 0.8% to 17,042.

The SMMT said the overall market was still positive, but although the transition to zero-emission vehicles was keeping up, it wasn’t at the pace needed to meet mandated targets.

Battery-electric van (BEV) sales rose 3.5% in May to 1,077, giving them a 4.2% market share – almost unchanged from last year’s 4.1%.

But overall BEV uptake for the year to date has fallen by 2.1%, giving it a 4.8% market share, which is down from 5.2% last year – the Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme target for each individual brand is 10% this year.

The SMMT said that harnessing the sustained growth in LCV demand but converting more businesses to transition will be vital if net zero is to be delivered.

It added that with the general election looming, all the parties must plan for measures to help UK businesses move to zero emission by keeping existing money incentives for electric and hydrogen vans, as well as ensuring there is a van-specific charging infrastructure.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘The UK van market’s 17-month run of growth is playing a crucial part in renewing the fleet with the latest, cleanest vehicles.

‘However, convincing businesses that now is the time to switch to zero-emission operations remains a challenge.

‘With an expanding choice for every use now available, the next government must take steps to recharge the zero-emission van market, which is an essential part of the net zero economy every party wants.’

May’s top-selling LCV was the Ford Transit Custom (pictured at top) at 3,189 units, followed by its Transit stablemate (2,505) and Ranger sibling (2,130).

Fourth was the Renault Trafic at 1,358, with the VW Transporter close behind at 1,265 sales.

In sixth position was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (1,148), followed by the Ford Transit Connect (1,013), Peugeot Partner (855) and Vauxhall Vivaro (827), with the Citroen Berlingo rounding off the top 10 at 789.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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