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Van sales drop for the first time since December 2020 as supply issues hit hard

  • A total of 23,606 vans were registered in July – a drop of nearly 15 per cent on last year
  • Year-to date figures are still up by 57.5 per cent on 2020 though, says SMMT
  • Market has also increased by 1.1 per cent on pre-pandemic five-year average

Time 2 months ago

Van sales dropped in July – the first time the LCV market has experienced a decline since last December, it was revealed today (Aug 5).

The SMMT said supply problems – mainly of semiconductors – meant just 23,606 vans were registered, which was a 14.8 per cent drop on July 2020’s figure.

Compared with the pre-pandemic five-year average of 24,598, it was a four per cent decline.


July’s most popular LCV was the Ford Transit Custom, pictured, which notched up 3,567 sales. Second was the VW Transporter at 1,944 units, while third was the Ford Transit (1,758).

But year-to-date registrations of 215,119 were still up 57.5 per cent – some 78,542 more units – on last year’s figure of 136,577, with the market also increasing by 1.1 per cent on the pre-pandemic 2015-2019 five-year average of 212,680.

The SMMT said the increase in van sales so far this year had been driven by growth in demand from operators  renewing and expanding fleets, mainly to meet the rising demand for online delivery business and the construction sector.

Demand for larger vans weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, which comprised most (70.5 per cent) of all commercial registrations in the month, saw a fall of 5.2 per cent to 16,653 vehicles.


There were more significant declines in demand in other van segments versus 2020, with registrations of vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes down 38.2 per cent and those of vans weighing 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes plummeting by 41.4 per cent to 907 and 2,680 vehicles respectively.

However, the SMMT’s latest quarterly forecast still reckons the LCV market will increase by 24.3 per cent to 363,880 units this year – a slight drop of 1.5 per cent on April’s forecast of 369,000 units.

That would leave it just shy of the total number of vans registered in 2019.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘While July’s decline in the new van market is disappointing, it must be viewed in context against the semiconductor shortages currently challenging the global industry.

‘Given the shift to home deliveries, strength of construction sector and as the economy opens up further, we expect the market to end the year almost back to 2019 levels.

‘Fleet renewal is critical, not only to ensure the newest, cleanest and greenest vans enter UK roads, but to enable the UK to meet its ambitious green targets.’

Vans best sellers July 2021 via SMMT

Source: 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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