New LCV registrations in the UK were down by 20% year-on-year in 2020.
The unsurprising decline, with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown measures being felt by the market, saw 292,657 LCVs being registered – the first time the total has fallen below 300,000 since 2013.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which has released the figures, said that while the pandemic had caused increased demand for online shopping delivery vehicles, this was not enough to offset subdued demand caused by the decline in the wider economy.
The LCV market was however relatively strong compared with the new car market, which fell by 29.4%.
All LCV market segments saw yearly declines, with the biggest hitting vans weighing less than 2.0t, down by 34.4% to 17,158 registrations.
The next biggest drop in demand was for pick-up truck, which were down by 32.7% to 35,691 registrations.
The 2.5t-3.5t van segment – by far the market’s largest – was down by 16.5% to 190,851 registrations, while the 2.0t-2.5t segment was down by 15.6% to 47,499.
The niche 4x4 segment was down by 10.6%, with just 1,448 vehicles sold.
The SMMT has also published its usual monthly update for December, which showed a relatively strong performance with an overall LCV market fall of just 1%.
Reacting to the annual figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “It’s been a truly extraordinary and testing year for the commercial vehicle sector. From keeping services running, to getting key workers, goods and medicines from A to B, manufacturers and operators alike have adapted to multiple unpredictable challenges.
“Undeniably the LCV market, having shrunk by a fifth, has a lot of hurdles to overcome as we enter 2021. However, investment in fleet renewal will be key to driving recovery, and the sector’s resilience, now coupled with added clarity over UK-EU trading relations and the rollout of vaccines, offers hope for both the van market and the wider economy.”
The UK’s bestselling van in 2020 was regular market leader the Ford Transit Custom, which chalked up 43,551 registrations – enough to make it the third most popular vehicle overall.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was the second most popular LCV with 23,506, ahead of the Ford Transit with 21,724, the Volkswagen Transporter with 15,856, and the Vauxhall Vivaro with 15,530.
Completing the top ten were the Ford Ranger (13,097), Citroen Berlingo (12,159), Ford Transit Connect (11,344), Peugeot Partner (11,174), and Vauxhall Combo (11,118).