The new light commercial vehicle market suffered an 11.1% fall in November, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which said the uncertain political and economic climate had continued to dent business confidence.

Demand weakened across all segments, with 26,486 LCVs leaving showrooms compared to 29,784 in November 2016 to register the third consecutive monthly decline.

Over the first 11 months of the year, registrations were down 4.1% to 334,133 units.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes warned the market decline would stall the process of the cleanest, Euro6 LCVs replacing older vehicles on the road.

He said: “Economic and political uncertainty continues to affect business confidence and with it new van purchasing decisions, which is damaging, both for the market and for efforts to improve air quality.

“Getting more of the latest, Euro6 LCVs onto our roads is the fastest way to reduce emissions so, to avoid a prolonged downturn, it is vital that [the] Government works to restore the conditions that give operators confidence to invest in their fleets.” 

Sales of small vans weighing under 2.0-tonnes plummeted 21.7% 2,941 in November, registrations of light vans in the 2.0-2.5-tonne bracket dipped 8.9% to 4,488 and volumes in the big 2.5-3.5-tonne sector covering medium and large vans dropped 9.4% to 16,593 units.

The pick-up sector had previously bucked the market trend over the course of the year but sales fell sharply by 14.4% to 3,346 in November. It remained 7.9% ahead in the year-to-date, however on 47,344. The only other sector to outperform 2016 over the year to 30 November was the 2.0-2.5-tonne category, which was up 3.0% on 51,201.

Market leader Ford kept its head above water in November with sales up 1.1% year-on-year to 8,748 and remained almost 2.0% up in the year-to-date with 108,525 registrations giving it a 30.5% market share. Vauxhall was the only other major manufacturer to record an upturn during November, selling 2,313 vans – exactly 100 more than in the corresponding month in 2016. In the year-to-date however, it was down by more than 25% to 26,514 units.

As ever, the Ford Transit Custom was the biggest selling van in November on 3,501 but the Mercedes Sprinter (2,142) squeezed into second spot ahead of the Ford Transit (2,018) despite being on run out before the third generation model arrives next year.