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September LCV sales were lowest since 2009 but SMMT says heavy van uptake is still robust

  • A total of 31,535 vans were registered last month – down by nearly 40 per cent on September 2020
  • Figure is a near-42 per cent drop on the five-year pre-pandemic September average
  • All weight classes bar 4x4s experienced drops

Time 3 weeks ago

September’s LCV market plummeted by 39.5 per cent versus 2020, latest figures show, with 31,535 vans registered according to the SMMT.

It makes for even gloomier reading when compared with the pre-pandemic five-year September average of 54,207 – down 41.8 per cent and making them the lowest September figure since 2009, which was  28,382 and when the market was suffering from the recession.

Registrations dropped by double digits across all weight classes except 4x4s, with the number of vans weighing between two and 2.5 tonnes seeing the largest decline of 70.1 per cent.


Despite comprising most of the market in September, sales of vans weighing more than 2.5 tonnes were down by 28 per cent, while light vans weighing less than or equal to two tonnes fell by 54.6 per cent.

However, the SMMT said that despite all that, heavier van uptake remained robust on 2020, with more than 51,000 extra units registered in the year to date versus 2020.

Heavy van sales – between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes – for the year to date were up 39.3 per cent on 2020, with 181,954 registered between January and September 2021 versus 130,588 over the same period in 2020.

They were down 28 per cent for the month, though, at 22,647.


It added that the impact of the semiconductor shortage was now becoming more severe, with CV production lines in the UK and abroad experiencing supply bottlenecks.

Year-to-date registrations of 267,236 are still 28.4 per cent higher than the Covid-affected 2020’s 208,080. However, the market remains below the pre-pandemic five-year average of 283,883 by 5.9 per cent.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘September was a disappointing month for new van registrations, as the much-documented semiconductor shortage has started to impact on supply.

‘Manufacturers are doing all they can to fulfil orders and, after a strong year so far, demand still remains high.

‘With businesses continuing to renew their fleets, there is a greater choice than ever of new zero-emission models coming to market, helping ensure the commercial vehicle sector plays its part in decarbonising road transport.’

The best-selling LCV was the Ford Transit Custom at 5,366 units. Second was the Ford Transit (3,335), third was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2,626) and fourth was the Toyota Hilux, pictured, at 1,790.

Van best sellers Sep 2021 via SMMT

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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