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Supply issues crush strong market demand

NFDA 05/10/2021

“September’s decline in light van registrations is the result of the global shortage of semiconductors eventually hitting the market”, said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers in the UK, commenting on the latest SMMT’s light commercial vehicle registration figures.

Registrations of new commercial vehicles up to 3.5t declined by -39.5% in September as the global shortage of semiconductors has started to affect the market. Year-to-date sales of LCVs remain 28.4% above last year’s levels.

September is usually a very positive month for light van registrations as, in addition to fleets and businesses, private buyers who purchase dual-use commercials usually have their vehicles delivered in the new registration plate month. The vehicles bought by these private buyers are often factory orders as they have detailed specifications, hence the delay in supply. 

Over the last few months, many new LCVs have been sourced from stocks held by the manufacturers at docks and compounds, but the majority of these have now been delivered and registered, causing further delays.

All main sectors of light commercials saw declines in registrations. The high volume/payload LCVs between 2.5-3.5t saw a decrease of -28% with volumes falling from 31,466 units in September last year to 22,647 commercials in the same month in 2021. This sector is the backbone of delivery and distribution, and demand is buoyant for new vehicles in this sector; as a result, as soon as component supply issues ease, we expect the built-up demand to absorb every vehicle produced.

The mid-weight sector (2.0-2.5t) suffered the largest decline (-70.1%) with only 2,661 units registered compared to 8,897 in September 2020. These vehicles are often of quite high specification and utilise more electronics than a more basic, larger fleet vehicle.

Although the Ford Transit Custom and the larger Transit model took the usual first and second position in registrations, followed in third position by Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, all other makes/models registered fewer than 1,800 units in the month, indicating supply constraints across all brands.

Sue Robinson continued: “Demand for new vans remains robust although a proportion of customers are opting for nearly new light commercials due to the order supply delays quoted to them. This is, in turn, pushing up second-hand van prices.

“The majority of our dealer members feel confident about demand but are concerned about supply, which will hopefully improve in the coming 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.