The coronavirus crisis decimated registrations of new LCVs in March, as the market shrank 54.3% compared to March 2019.

March, together with the other number plate-change month of September, is normally one of the two highest-volume sales months of the year.

As a result of coronavirus lockdown measures, new LCV registrations fell to just 30,247 units, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The commercial vehicle market is a barometer for the wider economy so March’s decline to the lowest level in more than 20 years is stark evidence of a crisis of truly unprecedented proportions.

“There is no doubt that demand will recover once we overcome the challenge that lies ahead. 

“However, given we do not yet know how long this will continue, government must continue to do everything possible to safeguard the sector so it is ready to help operators and the entire country get back to business when that time comes.

“Commercial vehicles are keeping supermarket and pharmacy shelves stacked and emergency services running – our reliance on this critical sector is being felt now more so than ever before.”

Registrations of vans under 2.0t plummeted by 64%, to just 1,575 units and registrations of vans between 2.5t and 3.5t fell 56%, to 17,925 units. Light vans of between 2.0t and 2.5t were only slightly less severely impacted, with a drop of 40.4%, to 5,855 units.

Pick-ups were down 57.8%, to 4,648. Niche 4x4s were up from 206 to 244 units.

As usual, the Ford Transit Custom was the best seller, at 4,345 units, followed by the large Transit, at 1,957 units and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, at 1,928 registrations.