Van and truck registrations in the UK got off to a strong start in 2011. A total of 19,621 vehicles were registered in January 2011, up 49.8% compared with 13,099 units accounted for in the corresponding month a year earlier.
Of the total, 17,154 vans (LCVs less than 3.5 tonnes) were registered in the UK last month, 48.6% more than the 11,546 units recorded in January 2010. The number of trucks (over 3.5 tonnes) increased by 58.9% year-on-year, from 1,553 units to 2,467, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
"Strong growth continues for van and truck registrations although uncertainty remains over the year ahead. A 49% rise in the van market and 56% for trucks is a good start to the year but next month's budget could prove crucial if freight operators' concerns over fuel duty and access to credit for business investment are not addressed," said Paul Everitt, SMMT' chief executive officer.
Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen led the van segment in January, all recording significant year-on-year sales growth. Ford posted sales of 4,558 vehicles, up 73% from 2,634 a year ago. Vauxhall followed selling 2,499 units (+43.5%), while Volkswagen managed 2,037 (+75.9%).
In the light trucks segment, comprising vehicles between 3.5 and 6.0 tonnes, Ford proved to be the most popular brand in the UK last month, with sales totalling 117 units (-19.3%). Sales at Mercedes-Benz fell by 28.6% to 65 units, while Fiat was just three units behind at 62 (+113.8%). Overall, the light trucks segment contracted by nearly 6% to 331 units (352 in January 2010).
Medium and heavy trucks (over six tonnes) fared much better, with sales rising from 1,201 units to 2,136 (+77.8%). Mercedes led the segment, selling 503 units (+151.5%), followed by DAF Trucks with 482 (+41.8%) and Volvo Trucks with sales of 355 units (+277.7%).
A total of 418 vehicles were registered in the UK in January 2011 with bus and coach bodies. This number includes all vehicles, from minibuses to double-deck buses and coaches. Compared with January 2010 levels, this figure was down 2.8%, according to SMMT data. This drop was due to the bus segment, where registrations fell by 6.9% to 349 vehicles. This more than offset a 25.5% growth recorded in coach registrations last month, at 69 units.
The main reason for the drop in bus numbers was the decline in registrations posted by buses between 3.5 and 8.5 tonnes (-9.9%), and double-deck buses over 16 tonnes (-62.2%). All coach segments posted improved figures last month, compared with a year earlier.
"Bus and coach registrations fell again in January as economic conditions continue to affect the sector. Despite the overall trend there were some good numbers across the sector, though these came in a quiet month in the registration calendar and are based on small volumes. Coach growth continued but will need to do better to beat the 1,000-unit pre-recession level. Double-deck bus numbers fell sharply in January, in line with the pattern set in 2010; we hope for some respite through 2011," Everitt said.