New light commercial vehicle sales are set to dip by 5% to 360,000 in 2017 as volumes fall in line with reduced demand, according to automotive data specialist Cap hpi.

The anticipated fall would represent the first time since 2012 that registrations have not exceeded the previous year’s numbers.

“There has been a steady increase in LCV registrations since 2010 with over 375,000 registrations recorded for 2016,” said Steve Botfield, senior editor Commercial Vehicles for Cap hpi.

But he added: “Up until the end of June the volume of LCV registrations stood at almost 185,000 so our forecasting is predicting 15,000 less registrations for the whole of 2017 compared with last year.” He predicted the market consolidation would continue into 2018.

According to Cap hpi data, LCV registrations increased by 69% in the six years to 2016 and the firm calculated the number of LCVs contracted on three-year cycles to have grown by 18% in 2017 compared to last year due to the increase in new sales between 2013 and 2014.

Cap hpi claimed the most popular individual model derivatives of the four manufacturers that recorded year-on-year growth from 2014 to 2016 were the Ford Transit Custom 290 L1 2.2 100hp Low Roof, Volkswagen Caddy C20 1.6 TD 102hp Startline, Mercedes Sprinter 313CDi LWB High Roof and the Nissan NV200 1.5dCi Acenta.

Despite the growing clamour for operators to ditch diesel it remains the dominant fuel in the LCV sector. Cap hpi said electric vans have so far only started to infiltrate the small and light van segments.

“Limited range and payload restrictions means that electric vehicles are not in contention in the sector as a whole,” it said.

Although petrol sales of lower weight vans are increasing as manufacturers make more models available, Botfield said diesel remained the fuel of choice “based on pure economy”.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), in the first seven months of 2017, 209,692 vans were registered, a fall of 3.1% compared with the same period of 2016. In July however, it recorded a marginal rise of 1.1% to 24,766 units.