Light Commercial Vehicle Editorial

Andy Picton

15 May 2018, Editorial

Sales of new light commercial vehicles grew in April as the market continued its topsy-turvy start to 2018. Demand grew by 3.9% with over 23,500 more new vehicles being registered.

The current month on month van performance fluctuations can be linked to a number of factors; the political uncertainty within the wider economy, varying and changing operator buying cycles as new technologies become viable propositions for certain jobs, extended delivery times on new orders and the launch of new models into the marketplace.

Despite these factors, a relatively steady YTD position has remained, resulting in registrations of 117,875, 2.3% down on the same point last year. And as the need for modern, fit-for-purpose vans with latest technology continues to grow, especially for those operating in and around proposed Clear Air Zones, the expectation is for registrations to remain steady through the year.

Vans under 2.0-tonnes experienced the largest increase, up 11.0%. Medium vans between 2.0-2.5t GVW saw registrations increase 9.2%, whilst demand for those vehicles between 2.5-3.5t GVW rose by 5.5%. Demand for pickups saw 3,332 registered during April, a fall of 13.5% on twelve months ago.

Ford continue in the ascendancy, with their model ranges holding 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th place in the April top 10 registration positions. The Ford Transit Custom sold 3,428 units, outselling the third placed VW Transporter (1,560 units) by more than two to one. Ford also hold the same positions in the YTD placings, with the Transit Custom selling 17,568 units during the first four months of 2018. Although on run-out, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter remains popular, with nearly 5,000 units registered over the same period.

In the used market, auction stock levels remained relatively high with buyers being presented with a varied choice of vehicles. Nevertheless, volumes sold decreased for the fourth month in a row, down 7.1% on March. The lack of quality stock to replace sold units continues to be a major problem for the trader, with prices continually on the increase eating into any profit opportunities.

This has resulted in a further increase of £74 in the average price of sold stock during April and a massive £923 over last 12 months. 

Of those sold, 86% did so at the first time of asking, up 3.9% on March (72.9% - March 2017), whilst their average age fell by 0.5 month to 63 months.

Generally, there remains a lack of Euro 6 vans available on the open market, with the exception of a limited volume from rental sources, stock isn’t readily available at present. The majority of buyers are concentrating on the cleanest Euro IV and V stock, with those on a budget sourcing typically older stock.

The small van sector was dominated by the Citroen Berlingo, with just under 200 sales at auction of the Enterprise 625 model alone during April. Latest shape Ford Transit Connect, and the VW Caddy also received a loyal following selling without difficulty.

Previous generation 260 and 280 SWB Transit continues to thrive on the used market, with buyers keen to purchase this reliable workhorse. The Ford Transit Custom 270 is another that hits the spot with used buyers, with high mileage 5year old examples seen as particularly good value for money. The VW Transporter and the Renault Trafic continued to attract plenty of buyers, with the nicest examples selling for super strong prices.

The large van sector has seen demand soar for the nicest 3.5t stock. MWB examples remained popular during April, with any offered with air con and metallic paint snapped up without hesitation. 2-3yr old LWB, high roof examples from PSA have sold strongly with many buyers seeking out the Enterprise and Professional trim levels. The shortage of clean, low mileage dropside, tipper and Luton van derivatives has also guaranteed plenty of sales.

Sales of 4x4 pick-ups declined during April with 95 less being sold over the month. Nevertheless, average sale prices increased by £266 and were over £800 higher than 12 months ago. There is a ready supply of L200, Ranger and Navara product available at auction, with buyers able to cherry pick the nicest examples. The Amarok is a rare sight which has resulted in super strong prices being paid, whilst the Hilux and D-Max have a loyal following resulting in the nicest examples finding new homes without difficulty.

About the author

Andy Picton

Andy PictonChief Commercial Vehicle Editor

Having worked previously for Barclays Asset Finance and LeasePlan in the commercial vehicle sector, Andy joined Glass’s in 2002 as part of the Commercial Vehicle team working closely with manufacturers, leasing and insurance companies, traders, dealers and auction houses. He was promoted to Chief Commercial Vehicle Editor in 2016 and manages our industry-leading team of valuation experts. He loves football, music and obviously commercial vehicles.