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Van market suffers as demand drops

Van registrations were down almost a quarter in August compared to the same period last year.

Robin Dickeson, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ manager of commercial vehicle affairs, said that van registrations were expected to drop with the present credit difficulties.

“Many small businesses are quite large-scale buyers of vans and they’re the first to feel the pinch,” Dickeson said.

“But the market has been growing enormously for the past few years, well above an average market by a substantial degree. So it’s not a story of wail and woe.”

Pick-ups hardest hit

He added: “Up to the end of the year will give us a better picture of what’s going on. It’s about in line with where we expected it to go.”

Year-to-date, light commercial vehicle sales are down 4.1% to 203,117 units. In August, 11,508 LCVs were registered, a 24.7% drop on the same month in 2007.

Car type pick-ups have taken the greatest hit, with a 42.2% drop year-to-date. Heavy vans are least impacted, with only a 1.3% drop since the start of the year.

A less volatile market

From a dealer’s point of view, said Dickeson, their businesses will still be supported as vehicles will be brought back to workshops for maintenance rather than being replaced.

It is also a good opportunity for dealers to financially engineer deals: “Dealer can control the terms of deals that they do.”

The used market for vans is also down, because people are keeping vehicles longer.

Dickeson said the van market is more realistic than car sales: “There are entirely different reasons for buying.

"Van sales are from business necessity, whereas cars are more or less a lifestyle choice, so the market is likely to be more volatile.”

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