UK new LCV registrations fell by 27.6% year-on-year in March, according to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures.

The SMMT said the decline was due to continuing vehicle supply and delivery issues, including the global semiconductor shortage.

It was also amplified by a strong market performance in March 2021, when pent-up demand contributed to the largest increase in LCV registrations since 1999. However, last month’s registrations were also down by 38.6% compared with pre-pandemic March 2019.

Every market sector recorded year-on-year declines, with the market-leading 2.5-3.5t van segment actually the strongest performer with an 18.9% year-on-year decline, recording 29,230 registrations.

2.0-2.5t vans were down by 27.6%, with 5,577 registrations, while vans weighing less than 2.0t plummeted by 70.8%, with 903 registrations.

Pick-up truck registrations were down by 48.4% to 4,457, while 4×4 registrations fell by 33.3% to 446.

Battery electric van registrations were up by 17.7% year-on-year to 1,909, and took a 5.8% market share, more than double that of March 2021.

For the year so far, the overall new LCV market is down by 23.6% compared with 2021, and by 27.6% compared with 2019.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The light commercial vehicle market has made a slower start to 2022 compared with the first quarter of last year, reflecting the cyclical nature of fleet operator investment, amid global supply shortages and increasing economic pressures. 

“Targeted support from government is needed to encourage fleet renewal and a full zero emission van market. The expansion of the Plug-in Van Grant will be a positive for the sector, but equally there needs to be a greater roll-out of suitable charge points to ensure fleet and self-employed van operators in all regions can make the transition.” 

The Ford Transit Custom topped the LCV sales charts in March with 8,372 registrations – enough to again make it the UK’s best-selling vehicle overall – ahead of the Ford Transit with 5,130 and the Vauxhall Vivaro with 3,054.

The top ten was completed by the Ford Ranger (2,274 registrations), Volkswagen Transporter (1,859), Citroen Berlingo (1,671), Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (1,633), Toyota Hilux (1,488), Peugeot Partner (1,285), and the Peugeot Expert (1,117).