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2003 CV registrations were highest since 1989

December's registrations of 26,010 vehicles represented an all time record for the month, and registrations climbed for 11 of the last 12 months to a 2003 total of 363,687 new commercial vehicles registered, just below the all time registration record of 371,104 set in 1989.

There were 303,755 new registrations of vans up to 3.5t gvw in 2003. The previous record volume was set in 1989 at 298,836. The LCV share of all CV registrations has risen from 80.4 per cent in 1993 to 83.5 per cent last year.

Van registrations up to 1.8t gvw were up by 33.4 per cent in December and a more modest 11.6 per cent for the year as a whole. Vauxhall has been at the leading edge in this sector of the new LCV market. For 2003 as a whole, year-on-year growth was 28.2 per cent and 13.2 per cent for medium and heavy vans respectively.

Registrations in the car-type pick-up (1.8 – 2.6t gvw) sector provided the most robust growth over 2003 in the CV sector. December's growth rose 58.2 per cent and 41.4 per cent for the year as a whole. This sector in 2003 achieved 13,700 registrations. It's continued health is partly contingent on future amendment of benefit-in-kind rules for company car users - crew cab pickups have in the past few years imposed BiK of only £500 p.a.

2003 4x4 utility registrations were down compared with 2002, the only consistent exception to the general growth trend elsewhere. December continued the trend with a fall of 6.3 per cent, completing a fall of 14.7 per cent for the whole year.

Truck registrations only dipped for two months of 2003, but the monthly growth pattern was variable. In December growth was 14.7 per cent, rounding-off an annual increase of 7.1 per cent. Growth was strongest at the heavier end of the truck market, especially for artics.

Artic registrations for December were up by 32.3 per cent and 12 per cent for 2003. All rigids saw growth of 7.0 per cent for the month and 4.7 per cent for the year. Two-axle rigids saw an increase of 3.9 per cent for the month and 1.9 per cent for 2003. Multi-axle rigids were up by 21.1 per cent for the month and 16 per cent for 2003. For 2003, there were 55,590 truck registrations of which 18,802 were artics.

Bus and coach registrations were up 12.2 per cent in December and 8.8 per cent over the whole year. December's growth, as in November, was a mainly a special effect of data revisions and changes. However, 2003 has been better than most industry executives envisaged over the course of the year with growth of 8.6 per cent for buses and 9.2 per cent for coaches.

SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan said, ”With GDP growth accelerating again and business confidence firm in the UK, the new CV market is well placed to hold 2003's strong registration volumes into 2004. Slowing growth in consumer spending will clearly be challenging, but the expected growth in business investment and healthy activity levels in construction and other service sectors bodes well for the immediate future.”

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