Fleet demand for new vans surpasses 50,000 units

More than 50,000 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) joined UK roads in a bumper March for fleet renewal. More businesses upgraded to the latest models than in any other month during the past three years, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT).

52,916 new vans, 4x4s and pickups were registered in March, up 11%. As a result, the van sector in 2024 delivered its best first quarter for three years, with volumes now just -8% below Q1 2019.

Registrations were driven by popular demand for the largest models – those weighing 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes – up 16% to represent more than two thirds (67%) of the market. The biggest percentage increase in uptake was of the smallest vans, up 49% to 986 units, while demand for medium-sized vans fell slightly by -4% to 8,939 units.

More fleets embraced green fuel choices last month than in any other new numberplate month to date, with new battery electric vans (BEVs) continuing to rise, up 15% to 2,906 units. It means the very greenest vans represented 6% of the whole LCV market, but up only slightly from 5% in March last year.

Meanwhile, the UK new car market accumulated its 20th consecutive month of growth in March, with a 10% rise in registrations. In what is typically the busiest month of the year due to the new numberplate, 317,786 new cars reached the road with a 24 plate. This marks the best March performance since 2019 but is still -31% below pre-pandemic levels.

Growth was again driven by fleet investment, up 30% as the sector continues to recover following the constrained supply of previous years. Registrations by private buyers fell by -8%, as did the small business registration segment.

Petrol cars maintained the majority of the market, at 56%, with registrations up 9% year on year, as diesel volumes fell -3% to account for just 7% of demand. Uptake of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) reached record levels, rising by 20% to 44,550 units and 14% of the market, while the biggest percentage growth was recorded by plug-in hybrids. PHEVs were up by more than a third to 24,517 units, or 8% of all new registrations. While battery electric vehicle (BEV) registration volumes were at their highest ever recorded levels, market share fell by one percentage point from the same month last year, down to 15%.

More information on the SMMT website: Registrations Archives - SMMT.