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Semiconductor shortages threaten recovery after April's record LCV sales

NFDA chief executive, Sue Robinson

The Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) market delivered record registrations in April as businesses expressed their confidence in the COVID-19 recovery in new vehicle acquisitions.

A total of 30,440 new vans were registered last month, the highest-ever total for the month since records began, according to data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figure put registrations well ahead of the five-year average, with April 2021 up by 23.2%.

UK van registrations, April 2021 rollingBut, despite the dramatic uptick, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) chief executive, Sue Robinson, both expressed concerns about the impact of a global semiconductor microchips on the ongoing recovery.

Hawes said: “Businesses are investing in new vehicles as they grow in confidence, driven by a more positive economic outlook stimulated by the vaccine rollout.

“There has been particular uplift in larger van uptake, both from established demand in home delivery, but also more broadly as other sectors emerge from lockdown looking to maximise their payload efficiency.”

He added: “With a fragile supply chain still subject to risk of disruption and ongoing COVID restrictions, there is some way to go before we can say business is back to normal, but after a very difficult year, the outlook is much brighter.”

Robinson said it was “extremely positive” to see LCV registrations rebound in April, but added: “Although most UK commercial dealers are confident that demand will continue as confidence in the economy increases, there are concerns over supply due to ongoing COVID-related issues at factories around Europe and the worldwide shortage of semiconductors.”

Vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes accounted for 20,037 registrations. So far in 2021, heavy van registrations have almost doubled compared to the same period in 2020, up to 84,374 compared with 42,749 recorded in the first four months of last year.

As a result, SMMT’s latest outlook for the sector forecasts that around 369,000 vans will be registered in 2021.

Here is the SMMT's ranking of the UK's best selling vans, April 2021:

UK's best-selling vans, April 2021

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