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After small gains in September last year, Britain’s new commercial van sales are slipping monthly, whilst new car sales figures are regularly improving.

New Plates

By the beginning of September 2012, when new registration plates for the second half of the year were released, van sales figures had slipped by 2.6%, with 247,536 units sold compared to September 2010-2011’s tally of over 250,000.
However, the autumn plate change sparked a small upturn of 1.1%, with sales of 39,060 units over the month. The pick-up and light van sectors were particularly buoyant, with encouraging boosts to sales figures compared to the same month in 2011 but as a whole, commercial vehicle sales are in a slump.
Unfortunately the boost proved to be temporary, with numbers slipping 8.1% in October with a paltry 17,794 units sold. With the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) having to increase its predictions for new car sales over the year, commercial vehicle sales predictions have had to be revised in the other direction.
After a fairly steady period of growth from October 2009 to October 2011, sales figures since then have been unfortunately depressing, with the biggest losses coming from the 2.0-2.5 tonne vans sector. The news was no more cheerful by November, reaching year on year decreases of 7.9%. However, the SMMT were upbeat, predicting post-recession re-adjustments.
With the arrival of a new year, commercial dealerships are coming to terms with a new market landscape. With total sales in 2012 reaching only 239,641 vans and heavy trucks the only optimistic performer, the commercial vehicle market sector fortunately has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Buyer Incentives

Similarly to car sales, fuel economy and efficiency are the key factors for commercial vehicle buyers. All the major manufacturers have invested huge sums into research and development in this area and new vans show incredible gains in this area compared to those from even a decade previous. Futuristic new product launches, heavy investment in UK production facilities and innovative technological advances are helping to create interest in this sector.
On a positive note, what goes up has to come down and vice-versa. Whilst commercial vehicles have suffered recently, the boost to new car sales should help consumer confidence in the automotive sector and from a buyer’s point of view, dealerships are responding to the ever more competitive conditions by offering continually improving products and services to whet the appetite of the commercial vehicle buyer.

Anthony Mason uses commercial vehicles as part of his day job. He also writes regularly about commercial vehicle updates and new on behalf of companies such as