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New van market hits record high despite Brexit uncertainty

motor1 logo motor1 08/04/2019 James Fossdyke
a car parked in a parking lot: White commercial delivery vans in a row © Motor1.com UK White commercial delivery vans in a row

Although the ongoing trials and tribulations of the UK's new car market are well documented, March saw the country's new van sales hit a record high.

According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the number of new sub-3.5-tonne vans registered in March topped 66,000 - the most ever registered in the UK over the course of a single month. It's also a 10.6-percent uplift on the number seen in March 2018, when fewer than 60,000 new light vans were registered.

Much of March 2019's growth came from the 2.5-3.5-tonne class, which makes up the majority of sales. Almost 41,000 vans in this weight category registered last month, up 13 percent on March 2018.

a van parked in front of a car: 2018 Ford Transit © Motor1.com UK 2018 Ford Transit

However, the 2-2.5-tonne segment saw even stronger growth, with registrations climbing by almost 18 percent to hit 9,800. The market for pick-up trucks, meanwhile, grew by just under seven percent to top 11,000 registrations for the month.

But the news wasn't all good. Sales of small vans weighing two tonnes or less were down by more than 10 percent, with fewer than 4,400 examples hitting UK roads.

a van parked in front of a car: 2017 Ford Transit Custom © Motor1.com UK 2017 Ford Transit Custom

The dominance of larger vans and pick-up trucks was reflected in the list of most popular models. The perennial favourite, the Ford Transit Custom (above), topped the charts by a mile, with more than 11,500 examples registered. That meant the Ford out-sold the next most popular model - the larger Ford Transit - by more than two to one.

Other entrants in the top five included the VW Transporter, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the country's best-selling pick-up truck; the Ford Ranger. The only pick-up to make the top 10 in March, some 3,100 examples of the dual-purpose Ford were registered last month.

a car parked on the side of a road: 2019 Ford Ranger (Euro-spec) © Motor1.com 2019 Ford Ranger (Euro-spec)

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the short-term hike in registrations was partly down to the arrival of the new ‘19 number plate, but long-term growth of the market was dependent on achieving the political and economic stability that would foster confidence among businesses.

“March is typically the busiest month of the year and it’s great to see large demand for the new ‘19 plate,” he said. “While the market does fluctuate with buying cycles, it appears buyers are making the most of the fantastic deals on offer. For such exceptional demand to continue long term, however, we need business confidence to improve and that means an end to the political and economic instability besetting the UK.”

Gallery: Cars that came back from the dead [Auto Car]

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