In the key plate-change month of March, the UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market fell 54.3%. Overall, 30,247 new vehicles hit UK roads in March, less than half of the 66,123 registered in March 2019, amid nationwide lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus emergency.
Demand was down across the board with most sectors experiencing double-digit declines. With the market a barometer for the wider economy, March’s registrations were the lowest for more than 20 years and stark evidence of a crisis of truly unprecedented proportions. Breaking the month down by sectors reveals registrations declined by 57.8% for Pickups, 64.0% for Vans under 2.0 tonnes, 40.4% for Vans between 2.0-2.5 tonnes and 56.0% for Vans between 2.5-3.5 tonnes. Year to date, total registrations are down 33.9% on the same point in 2019.
Top five LCV registrations
There is an expectation that demand will recover once we overcome these troubled times, however nobody knows how long this will take. Operators and their drivers are currently working flat out supporting the NHS and to keep the emergency services, pharmacies, supermarkets, foodbanks, charities and other crucial services operational. During this lockdown, everyone has become reliant on the commercial vehicle sector, with that reliance guaranteed to continue way beyond this crisis as the UK looks to rebuild its economy.
March Auction Market Overview: Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV)
Due to the coronavirus lockdown and the closure of all auction houses, March’s sold volumes unsurprisingly fell dramatically. Stock was plentiful and prices for the nicest vehicles was to Guide values during the first half of the month, but the staggered closure of physical sales and then on-line sales the following week had a devastating impact. By month end, there was a 42.6% month on month decline and a 24.9% year on year drop in sold vehicles.
Of those LCVs that did sell, the average age in March was 74.6 months, 6.0 months older than twelve months ago, but 1.2 months younger than last month. Additionally, average first-time conversion rates over the last 12 months improved 4.9% to 83.3%.
Average vehicle mileage stands at 80,530 miles, a minor increase of 283 miles on February and 243 miles on March 2019. Despite the unprecedented difficulties, March’s average sale price fell by only 5.6% against February and 5.9% on the same point last year.
Demand for Small Vans reduced during March, with their average sale price falling by £250 as well. Tidy examples of Transit Connect, Combo, Berlingo, Partner and Kangoo were all of interest during the month.
The Medium Van sector saw March sales dip by nearly 45% with average sale prices also down slightly. Interest for Transit Custom, Trafic, Vivaro, Transporter and to a lesser extent Vito was steady through the first half of the month, with crew vans again catching the eye.
The Large Van sector saw March sales dip by over 40% with average sale prices down nearly 4%. Across this sector, there was interest in anything straight, tidy or sensibly priced. Average mileage for stock sold fell over 2,200 miles to just below 95,000 miles in March.
The 4×4 Pickup sector saw sales decline by over 45% in March, but average prices were up by over £150. Higher specification models drove this sector, leading to a near 4.0% improvement in first time conversion rates. Older examples continued to attract buyers when priced in line with age, condition and mileage.