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04. 06. 2020 10:06


UK new van market feels COVID-19 impact, as registrations halve in March 

The UK market for new light commercial vehicles (LCV) fell -54.3% in March amid nationwide lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus crisis.

According to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), registrations more than halved compared with March 2019, with just 30,247 vans bearing the new ’20 number plate joining the roads. 

Key points:

  • Just over 30,000 vans hit UK roads, as lockdown measures come into force and dealers close.
  • Demand down across the board with most segments experiencing double-digit declines.

UK new van market feels COVID-19 impact, as registrations halve in March 

Demand fell in double digits across most segments, with only the small volume 4x4 sector experiencing an 18.4% increase.

Pickups and smaller vans weighing less than 2 tonnes saw declines of -57.8% and -64.0% respectively.

Larger vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes made up the bulk of registrations, but were down -56.0%, with 17,925 units registered.

Performance year-to-date is down -33.9%, rounding off the weakest first quarter since March 2012, when the year-to-date volume was 61,688.

LCV registrations

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, says: “The commercial vehicle market is a barometer for the wider economy so March’s decline to the lowest level in more than 20 years is stark evidence of a crisis of truly unprecedented proportions.

"There is no doubt that demand will recover once we overcome the challenge that lies ahead, however, given we do not yet know how long this will continue, government must continue to do everything possible to safeguard the sector so it is ready to help operators and the entire country get back to business when that time comes.

"Commercial vehicles are keeping supermarket and pharmacy shelves stacked and emergency services running – our reliance on this critical sector is being felt now more so than ever before.”

Van salesDuring the coronavirus lockdown, commercial vehicles have been put to use to support crucial sectors. From providing support services for NHS trusts, local charities and foodbanks across the country, to sharing capacity to ensure grocery and pharmaceutical sectors can keep up with demand, the commercial vehicle sector is determined to help get the country through this crisis. 

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SMMT publishes data for vehicle registrations of 6-tonne gross vehicle weight and above on a quarterly basis (six weeks after quarter end) to enable clear trend analysis. New Light Commercial Vehicle registrations are reported on a monthly basis in line with new car registrations. New LCV registration figures for March are released on 5 May 2020.


About SMMT and the UK automotive industry

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is one of the largest and most influential trade associations in the UK. It supports the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad, promoting a united position to government, stakeholders and the media. 

The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for £82 billion turnover and £18.6 billion value added. With some 168,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and 823,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 14.4% of total UK export of goods and invests £3.75 billion each year in automotive R&D. More than 30 manufacturers build some 70 models of vehicle in the UK supported by 2,500 component providers and some of the world's most skilled engineers.

More detail on UK automotive available in SMMT's Motor Industry Facts 2019 publication at


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