The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market fell -74.1% in May as the nationwide coronavirus lockdown continued to impact registrations, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


Some 7,541 vehicles were delivered in the month, the majority to fleets running food distribution, home delivery, utilities, broadband and emergency services operations.

Mimicking trends seen in the previous month of lockdown, smaller commercial vehicles saw larger drops in demand, with just 741 pickups and 26 4x4s registered in May, down -80.3% and -83.8% respectively. Meanwhile, vans weighing 2.0 tonnes or less saw a -84.0% decline and registrations of mid-sized vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell -78.7%. Elsewhere, registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes saw a decline of -70.4%, with 5,412 units delivered contact-free to businesses pivotal to keeping the country going amid a nationwide crisis.

As lockdown has continued for more than two out of the first five months of the year, performance year-to-date has declined -49.6%, with almost half the number of vehicles registered than in the same period last year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chiefexecutive, said: “While slightly better than April, these figures are still extremely worrying. As more businesses re-open, we are seeing a gradual uptick in fleet renewal orders. However, restoring operator confidence to ensure they continue to invest in their fleets is the only way to get more of the latest, cleanest commercial vehicles on our roads. This will be critical not just to the economy but to the resumption of normality for business and society which depends on this sector.”

Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealer Association (NFDA), which represents franchised commercial vehicle and car retailers across the UK, said: “As dealerships reopen and demand improves, supply could become an issue as many of these vehicles are built in the EU and the return to production varies across countries.

“The market will gradually recover as many fleets and operators are aware of the need for environmentally friendly light commercials as ‘clean air zones’ are reintroduced, and many consumers have become more comfortable with online purchases during the lockdown”.