The light commercial vehicle market recorded its busiest ever April as 30,440 new vans were registered, according to the latest figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
All vehicle segments saw inflated growth rates relative to April 2020 due to Covid restrictions. Registrations were also well ahead of the five-year average, with April 2021 up by 23.2%. With some 127,796 vans registered so far in 2021, uptake levels have returned to levels last seen in 2019.
Growth was primarily driven by a sustained increase in larger van acquisition, with vans weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes accounting 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.
With car registrations, 141,583 new cars were registered – significantly up on a lockdown April 2020, but still -12.9% down on 10-year average.
The total plug-in vehicle market share broadly followed the trend seen in recent months, accounting for just over one in eight vehicles, or 13.2%. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), at 6.8% of the market, were more popular than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 6.5%. Monthly BEV uptake was down compared with Q1 2021 overall, however, as they had been running at 7.5% of total registrations.
In light of the more upbeat economic outlook on the back of vaccine rollout and easing of the lockdown restrictions in line with government roadmap, the SMMT has revised its forecasts upwards from 1.83 million – to around 1.86 million new cars to be registered by the end of the year, a 13.9% increase on 2020.
BEVs are now expected to account for 8.9% of registrations by year-end – down from the 9.3% initially forecast in January, considering March’s changes to the Plug-in Car Grant. With PHEVs anticipated to take a 6.3% market share, total plug-in vehicles should comprise 15.2% of all cars registered in 2021.