During the first two-thirds of 2019 it was tempting to ask ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ as sales of new light commercial vehicles increased month by month, defying the gloomy economic forecast and in stark contrast to the declining passenger car market.
But then we got to the big-volume plate-change month of September and with it came a reality check. Sales plummeted by almost a quarter year-on-year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with the crucial 2.5-3.5t sector hit particularly hard.
The switch to the WLTP emissions testing regime undoubtedly had an effect through disrupting supply, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the interminable backdrop of political turmoil and economic uncertainty caused by Brexit finally had a negative impact on business confidence, hampering forward-planning and giving LCV operators cold feet when it came to investing in their fleets.
It is to be hoped a more stable trading environment can be established as soon as possible to enable the market to resume its upward trajectory.
James Dallas is the Editor of What Van?