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Light commercial vehicle market declines in February 2017

NFDA 06/03/2017

“It is concerning to see how swiftly the new light commercial vehicle market went from the positive results shown over the past few months, to the decline in sales seen in February”, said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association which represents commercial vehicle and franchised car retailers across the UK, commenting on the SMMT’s light commercial vehicle registration figures.

The new light commercial vehicle market under 3.5 tonnes saw a decrease of -4.3% compared with the same period last year. Year to date, registration figures were down -1.0%.

The heavy weight sector between 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes, which accounts for over 65% of all under 3.5 tonnes commercials and is usually the strongest segment, declined by 1.3% in February. Most of these, are usually purchased as fleet commercials by corporate consumers who generally place orders with manufacturers well in advance to enable them to refresh their fleets on a progressive cycle.

Pick-ups saw a strong growth of 28.9% in January, however, this segment held steady in February compared with the same period last year. This market is often driven by retail demand and self-employed who use these dual-purpose vehicles for their trade, often in building and construction.

On a positive note, the mid-size vans between 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes grew by 9% in February. These vehicles are usually used in the service industry, which tends to be less affected by the volatility of consumer demand.

Again, Ford saw the highest number of commercials registered with 4,157 vans hitting the road in the month, a market share of 31.28%. The most popular models were the Transit Custom and its larger sister the big Transit, the Mercedes Sprinter was in third position, followed by the Vauxhall Vivaro and the VW Transporter.

Robinson concluded, “We hope that in March, sales of light commercial vehicles will come back to the steady growth seen over the last few months.”

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The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses. The RMI has a formal association with the independent Scottish Motor Trade Association which represents the retail motor industry in Scotland.