Van sales fall in October but 2016 still best year on record

  • October 2016 4.5 percent down on October 2015
  • But year-to-date sales remain highest recorded
  • Transit nameplate out-sells every car except Fiesta

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says the overall UK van market remains strong despite a 4.5 percent drop in sales during October 2016 compared with the same month in 2015.

26,950 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) were registered in October this year, whereas October 2015 saw 28,208 new vans and pickups leave dealerships.

Still, with 318,664 LCVs sold so far in 2016 overall, the market remains 2.0 percent higher than it was at this point last year.

Heavy vans see rare decline

October 2016 also represented only the second month since July 2013 where heavy vans – meaning 2.5-3.5-tonne models (see our top 10 examples for maximum payload by clicking here) – saw a year-on-year decline, with registrations down 7.1 percent compared with October 2015.

Heavy vans remain the dominant market force, however, accounting for 62 percent of all LCVs registered so far this year.

October 2016 was mixed for smaller vans, with the sub-2.0-tonne segment down 17.4 percent while 2.0-2.5-tonners were up 19.6 percent versus October 2015. You can see a full breakdown across all areas of the market in the official table from the SMMT, below.

UK van sales October 2016

How bad is this news?

Not overly worrying, according to the SMMT’s Chief Executive Mike Hawes: “Following the sector’s very strong performance in 2015, a levelling off in demand was expected, so this month’s decline comes as no surprise.”

2016 is a record year for van sales so far

Hawes continued: “Overall, the market remains robust, with the number of van registrations in the first 10 months of 2016 outperforming any other year on record. Maintaining business confidence for LCV operators will be critical to this sector’s future performance.”

That would be a thinly veiled reference to Brexit, we believe.

Ford continues to lead the way

Ford LCV sales were also down in October 2016 – by 4.6 percent against October 2015, meaning the UK’s best-selling LCV brand actually performed slightly worse than the rest of the sector.

But that didn’t stop Ford passing the 100,000 registrations mark year-to-date – the first time it has ever achieved this in October, and a performance that’s 12.1 percent better than this time in 2015. In fact, it’s the first time any brand has ever achieved this in October, as Ford has now led the UK LCV market for the past 50 years consecutively.

As usual it’s the Transit Custom that’s top of the individual model sales chart, with the full-size Transit just behind it in second. But perhaps even more significantly, if you take every Transit-badged Ford collectively (that’s Courier, Connect, Custom and plain Transit), the Transit nameplate has out-sold every other vehicle in the UK this year – except the Ford Fiesta.

With the Ranger pickup also up over 65 percent to around 11,000 sales in 2016, Ford is having quite the fruitful year. For the full manufacturer breakdown see the official chart from the SMMT, below.

And if Ford are your thing, don't forget to check out our extensive coverage of the exciting Ford M-Sport range by clicking here.

UK van sales October 2016 best-sellers