New van registrations up year on year while car sales decrease

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row of vans at the dealership

Light commercial vehicle (LCV) sales were up by 26.4% in September in the UK, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) comparing year-on-year changes.

Total registrations of vans, pick-ups and 4x4s amounted to 52,096. This is 10,880 more than the same month in 2019, which saw unusually low sales due to regulatory changes. 

So although September 2020’s sales figure looks like a huge improvement on 2019, to give it a little context it’s still down 3.3% compared to September 2018 and it’s 6.6% lower than the September average from 2014-2018.

Year-to-date sales are also still lower than expected, down 27.4% or almost 80,000 units below 2019 levels.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The sector has shown incredible resilience throughout the ongoing crisis and September’s numbers indicate some confidence is returning as operators seek flexibility and lower operating costs. 

“However, the context of these figures is important as the headline growth belies a very weak September 2019 and is still short of the rolling average. 

“From new social distancing restrictions, to job losses as the furlough scheme comes to an end next month, and the ticking clock that is the end of the Brexit transition period, the next quarter holds myriad challenges for the industry.”

While there’s been year-on-year growth in van sales, it’s a different story for the new car market, which declined by 4.4% in September. 

Just 328,041 cars were registered, making this the lowest September volume since the twice-yearly number plate system was introduced in 1999. It’s also 15.8% lower than the 10-year average for September of approximately 390,000 sales. 

However the good news is that battery electric and plug-in hybrid car uptake increased to account for more than one in 10 new car registrations.

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