Van registrations declined for the first time in 2021 as supply shortages resulted in a 14.8% year-on-year dip in July, according to SMMT data.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported that 23,606 vans were registered last month as global semi-conductor supply issues and staff shortages continued to impact vehicle production.
Yesterday's SMMT car registrations data for July indicated that supply issues had resulted in the month's lowest new car registrations total since 1998.
SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “While July’s decline in the new van market is disappointing, it must be viewed in context against the semi-conductor shortages currently challenging the global industry.
“Given the shift to home-deliveries, strength of construction sector and as the economy opens up further, we expect the market to end the year almost back to 2019 levels.
“Fleet renewal is critical, not only to ensure the newest, cleanest and greenest vans enter UK roads, but to enable the UK to meet its ambitious green targets.”
SMMT data showed that larger vans (weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes), which made up 70.5% of all commercial registrations in July, saw a decrease of 5.2% to 16,653 vehicles.
Other van segments saw more significant declines compared to 2020, with registrations of vans weighing less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes down 38.2% and those of vans weighing more than 2.0-2.5 tonnes down 41.4% to 907 and 2,680 vehicles respectively.
Year-to-date registrations remain up 57.5% on last year however, with some 78,542 more units.
In total 215,119 new vans have exchanged hands so far in 2021.
National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) chief executive, Sue Robinson, said: “The year-on-year drop was expected given the restricted supply of new commercial vehicles.
“NFDA CV members remain cautiously optimistic for the remainder of the year.”
The SMMT said that the increase in van sales this year has been driven by growth in demand from operators who continue to renew and expand their fleets, notably to meet rising demand for online delivery business and the construction sector.
The SMMT’s latest quarterly forecast anticipates the LCV market to increase by 24.3% to 363,880 units in 2021.
However, this is a modest reduction of 1.5% from April’s forecast of 369,000 units, and which would leave it just shy of the total number of vans registered in 2019.
Ford’s Transit Custom remained the UK’s best-selling van in July, with more than 3,500 examples registered during the month.