The new light commercial vehicle ("LCV") market declined in 2017, representing a 3.6pct year-on-year drop, according to the latest figures shared with us by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders ("SMMT"). It is the market’s first decline since 2012.
The decline was especially marked in demand for light vans (under two tonnes), where demand fell by more than 20pct. Demand for pick-ups and vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes increased since 2016.
Isolating just those figures for December we can see that LCV registrations increased by almost 3pct to 28,016 units, with pick-ups proving popular, with demand rising 6pct in the month, while registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5t grew 7.5pct. Demand for car-derived vans weighing under 2 tonnes fell by over 20pct.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, added some context to the news.
“While the market has slowed in 2017, this was in line with expectations and demand remains at a high level. In fact, LCV registrations have increased 62.5pct since 2010. For 2018, however, we expect the economic and political uncertainty to continue to affect the market so Government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is fastest way to reduce overall emissions.”
SMMT also pointed out that demand is still at its third highest level in a decade, with 362,149 new vans and pick-ups driven off forecourts in the year.
One reason behind the last twelve months' decline may be a perception that the swing away from diesel has not yet been fully resolved; if the market anticipates a greater choice of electric vehicles is just around the corner, for example, then it may pay to wait a year.