Van-tastic! Business drives auto sales rise
By Simon Hacker | 6th October 2023
Britain's light commercial market grew again last month – making that nine months on the bounce.
And the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which collates all auto data, says that the ongoing rise is no shock.
Will Reeves, SMMT Commercial Vehicle Manager said: "September [is] often one of the busiest months in the calendar as operators upgrade their fleets with the new number plate."
In all, 44,633 new vans were registered, marking the highest volume since March and 28.1% above September last year.
The crux of the good news, the SMMT says, is that these vehicles have some of the most advanced tech on UK roads, providing a range of driver assistance tools, the latest fuel efficiencies and, thanks to long-term investments from OEMs here and abroad, there are now 25 van models offering the benefits of zero emission motoring.
Mr Reeves added: "There has been a longer term shift towards large vans as operators opt for payload and fuel efficiencies, with registrations up 13.0% to represent 65.1% of the market in September. Demand for medium vans, meanwhile, grew 89.0% to a share of 15.8%, with a large uptick in other the smaller volume segments including pickups and 4x4s, up 64.4% and 141.8% respectively. Due to the popularity of larger models, small vans were the only segment to fall in demand, down -13.4% on the same month last year."
Whether large or small van, pickup or 4X4, these vehicles, says the SMMT, "are business-critical - just as much as the tractor will be to farmers during the harvest season - so it's essential that stakeholders are paying attention to the needs of the sector at a time of national infrastructure planning and mandated targets."
The Plug-in Van Grant, competitive running costs and reduced CO2 emissions continue to attract battery electric van registrations, up 85.9% to 2,882 units in September - making up 6.4% of the market in the month.
"Clearly, zero emission vans are already carrying out a wide range of roles for operators, be it local businesses or social enterprises or some of the UK's largest organisations."
However, sales of electric cars directly to the private buyers stuttered in September.
In total, 272,610 new cars were registered in September as the market rose 21.0% in the 14th consecutive month of growth. Fleets drove this month's expansion during 'new plate month' while overall private purchases added to the uplift, says the SMMT.
But it warned that while zero emission vehicle demand continues to grow, the pure EV market share slipped back slightly to 16.6% from 16.9% a year ago.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "A bumper September means the new car market remains strong despite economic challenges. However, with tougher EV targets for manufacturers coming into force next year, we need to accelerate the transition, encouraging all motorists to make the switch. This means adding carrots to the stick - creating private purchase incentives aligned with business benefits, equalising on-street charging VAT with off-street domestic rates and mandating chargepoint rollout in line with how electric vehicle sales are now to be dictated. The forthcoming Autumn Statement is the perfect opportunity to create the conditions that will deliver the zero emission mobility essential to our shared net zero ambition."
Copyright 2023 Moose Partnership Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any content is strictly forbidden without prior permission.