The UK new LCV market saw a strong recovery in 2021, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said.

Compared with 2020, when the start of the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on sales, registrations last year were up by 21.4%, with the total of 355,380 registrations only 2.8% down on pre-pandemic 2019.

The SMMT said the robustness of the LCV market – which contrasted with continuing problems for the new car market – was partly due to strong underlying demand from key sectors such as construction and home delivery.

The organisation also hailed strong growth in the sales of electric vans, though a 142.3% registrations increase was still only good enough for a 3.6% total market share.

By far the largest market sector by body type during the year was again 2.5-3.5t vans, which saw registrations rise year-on-year by 27.8% to 243,889.

There was also a rise in registrations for vans weighing less than 2.0t, up by 3.6% to 17,787, as well as for pick-ups, up by 19% to 42,488, and for the niche 4×4 sector, up by 183% to 4,098.

However, registrations of vans weighing 2.0-2.5t were down by 0.8% to 47,118.

The SMMT has also published monthly figures for December, showing the overall LCV market was up by 7.8% compared with December 2020.

Commenting on the annual figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After a difficult 2020, the commercial vehicle sector has bounced back, with registrations recovering to just shy of pre-Covid levels. 

“While demand has remained robust, there is still the potential for market volatility with the Omicron variant and component shortages threatening supply chains. 

“Manufacturers are working hard to ensure deliveries, and, with a record number of battery electric vans registered this past year, customers can be assured that more of these new technology vehicles will be available to keep society and businesses moving in an increasingly zero-emission manner.”

The Ford Transit Custom was the UK’s biggest-selling LCV in 2021, as well as the best-selling vehicle overall, with 53,394 registrations, ahead of the Ford Transit on 34,293, and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter on 21,915.

Completing the top ten were the Volkswagen Transporter (21,190 registrations), Vauxhall Vivaro (17,957), Ford Ranger (17,830), Citroen Berlingo (12,030), Ford Transit Connect (11,498), Peugeot Partner (11,290), and Vauxhall Combo (10,569).