In contrast to new car sales here last month, the UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew for the second consecutive month in October 2020, up 13.3% to the highest October tally on record, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
A total of 28,753 vans, pickups and 4x4s were registered in the month, following a weaker than usual October 2019 when the market was, SMMT said, "impacted by ongoing supply challenges around WLTP approved vehicles".
Demand last month was driven by the heavier end of the LCV market with registrations for vans weighing more than 2.5 and up to 3.5 tonnes up 26.8% to 20,492 units. A combination of pent up demand from the UK's first lockdown (starting last March), growth in the construction sector and new fleet orders coming in ahead of an anticipated busy Christmas period kept van deliveries high in the month.
Continuing the trend, registrations for smaller vans weighing up to two tonnes and medium vans weighing over two tonnes and up to 2.5 tonnes grew 1.6% and 2.9% respectively. However, 4x4s and pickups both saw a dip in demand, with registrations down 33.6% and 31.8% respectively, in part reflecting difficulties faced by the agriculture sector.
Year to date registrations were down 24.1% with the sector yet to make up a shortfall of around 75,000 units.
"With a second lockdown beginning today (5 November) and lasting at least a month, 2019's performance will be impossible to match," the SMMT said in a statement.
Chief executive Mike Hawes added: "A second month of growth for the van market is testament to the resilience of the sector and society's reliance on it amidst a difficult year. However, with a second nationwide lockdown ahead, future performance is difficult to gauge. Industries such as construction and logistics will keep the country moving as they did earlier in the year, but continued uncertainty and closures across retail and hospitality will have an effect on all businesses, and consequently commercial vehicle demand."