Pair of Transit vans parked outside warehousePair of Transit vans parked outside warehouse


March saw largest increase in new van sales for over 20 years, but sector still playing Covid catch-up

Time 4 months ago

New van sales grew by 85.5 per cent in March – the highest ever increase since the switch to the two plate system in 1999, new figures show.

Data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) reveals 56,122 vans joined UK roads last month and March was the largest ever increase for over 20 years, however the organisation tempered celebrations.

March 2021 still represented a 10.9 per cent decrease when compared to the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 average, it said.

Despite all segments experiencing higher demand, total registrations fell a little short of industry expectations as the latest forecast predicted 360,000 LCVs registered by end of the year.

Overall, growth was led by an increase in larger van registrations, as vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the majority of the month’s figures, doubling (101 per cent) to 36,032 vehicles.

97,356 light commercial vehicles were registered in the first quarter of 2021, up 43.4 per cent on 2020, but down one per cent 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.’

The Ford Transit Custom lead both March and year-to-date sales charts, and comfortably ahead of the second-placed Ford Transit. So far this year, Ford has shifted 14,317 Customs and 9,594 Transits.


James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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