As a result of Covid-19, the number of new LCV registrations in April plummeted 86.2% year-on-year, to just 3,387 units.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), 21,217 fewer new LCVs were registered in the UK last month compared to April 2019.

Thanks to some demand from the NHS, emergency services, pharmaceutical, food distribution and home delivery services, the LCV market did slightly better than the new passenger car market, which was down a massive 97.3% to just 4,321 units.

Within the LCV market, sales of compact vans and off-roaders were hit hardest, with just 271 pick-ups registered in April – down 91.8% – while vans weighing 2.0t or less saw a 92.3% decline. Registrations of light vans between 2.0-2.5t fell 90.4%. 

Meanwhile, demand for medium and large 2.5-3.5t vans was down 83.1%, with 2,588 delivered to operators, many of them working on the front line of the national crisis.

The outlook for the whole year is looking grim as well: Year-to-date sales are down 44% to 71,294 vehicles, 56,000 fewer than last year. The SMMT expects an overall LCV market decline for 2020 of 28.0%, equivalent to a market of 263,000 units by the end of the year. Although it expects registrations to recover in 2021, it will most likely still be down on 2019, which was a particularly strong year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “These figures, while not surprising, are still shocking. Restoring business confidence and delivering the safe restart of retail operations will be key to kick-starting demand. Getting this important market moving again will be critical to the wider automotive sector’s recovery and provide a boost to the UK economy as we begin emerge from this crisis.”

Amid these depressing figures, the ranking of best sellers seems almost trivial, but it’s nevertheless interesting to note that neither the Ford Transit Custom nor the full-size Transit were occupying their usual number-one and number-two spots. 

Instead, it was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that outsold all other vans, at 814 new registrations. The Peugeot Boxer and Vauxhall Vivaro took second and third place, with 301 and 257 new registrations respectively.