A decline of 8.8% in December in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market capped off what has been described as a ‘mixed’ year for the sector.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) for the last month of 2018 do suggest a difficult year.
However, the fall in the LCV market for the whole of the year was more modest and, significantly, the annual registrations defied expectations.
The decline recorded in December within the LCV market represents more than half of the decline for the whole of 2018, which says a lot for how impressive a year it has been.
The industry has had to deal with the understandable economic and business uncertainty, as well as the usual fleet buying cycles.
Yet, for the whole year, 357,325 vehicles were registered. Although this equates to a decrease of 1.3%, the total was enough to make 2018 the fourth best year for registrations since collating these records began.
The LCV market was boosted by 4x4s, which leapt up by a mammoth 303% from 2017, while there was also a 4.3% rise in the registration of pickups.
Decreases were recorded in the registration of vans that weigh less than two tonnes (14.7%) and those between 2 – 2.5 tonnes (7.4%).
However, medium-sized vans in the LCV market were up ever so slightly from the levels of 2017.
And the SMMT’s Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, believes the “strong” market will flourish further if the right conditions are in place.
He said: “This sector is a key indicator of business confidence in the UK, and operators need stability to renew their fleets.
“December’s performance was worrying, as was the overall drop in fleet purchases.
“Business confidence depends on government providing the right conditions, which first and foremost means taking a ‘no deal’ Brexit off the table.
“We have a strong and competitive commercial vehicle market in the UK, one that can flourish in the right economic climate.”