UK van market down 86.2% in April 2020

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown has dramatic impact on van sales
  • Big reduction in new van registrations in April (and March) 2020
  • However, Mercedes Sprinter is bestselling vehicle of any kind in April 2020

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter - bestselling van April 2020

The coronavirus lockdown across the UK has seen new van and pickup sales plummet 86.2% in April 2020, compared with the same month in 2019. Just 3,387 new vehicles were sold.

This should hardly come as a surprise, as most sales operations have been closed since mid-March – making it impossible for many people to buy new vehicles.

However, that registrations haven’t fallen as far for the van market as they have for the car market (down an incredible 97.3%) reinforces the importance of light commercial vehicles among essential industries and key workers in the fight against COVID-19.

What's more, the bestselling van in April - the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter - out sold every car as well...

Which areas of the van market are down the most?

Sales are down heavily across the board, but vehicles with smaller load capacity have suffered the most.

Pickups are down 91.8%, vans weighting less than 2.0 tonnes are down 92.3%, and vans in the 2.0-2.5 tonnes bracket are down 90.4%.

Large vans between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes are down 83.1%, but still accounted for the bulk of new registrations in April 2020, with 2,588 vehicles in this category being delivered – almost exclusively to coronavirus frontline operators and key supporting industries.

What does that mean for the van market as a whole in 2020?

Together with a 54.3% fall in March 2020, the April drop off has had a dramatic impact on the overall van sales figures for 2020.

Despite a strong start, the market is now down 44.0% overall since the start of the year, compared with the same period in 2019. That’s equivalent to 56,000 fewer vehicles being sold.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is therefore predicting that UK van sales for all of 2020 will be down around 28% by the end of year compared with all of 2019 – equivalent to around 263,000 vehicles in total.

The bad news is set to continue in 2021, with the SMMT suggesting this will also be down versus 2019, though by a slightly less dramatic 6.1%.

If it’s any consolation, the SMMT describes 2019 as ‘a particularly healthy year’.

Which vans sold best in April 2020?

We have a full bestsellers page that covers the van sales chart in detail, but suffice to say that the lockdown has made some dramatic changes to the usual top 10 bestselling vans running order.

The Ford Transit Custom would usually dominate this list, but it fell to fourth spot with just 144 examples sold, behind the Vauxhall Vivaro, which saw 257 registration.

The top two bestsellers were the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (814 sold) and Peugeot Boxer (301 sold), both important vans in the logistics and parcel delivery sectors. The rival Ford Transit fell from it’s usual second or third place to sixth, however (138 sold), which is a slight surprise.

Other unusual names in the April 2020 top 10 include the Isuzu D-Max, the Nissan NV200 (we’re checking but assume these will all have been e-NV200 electric vans) and the Iveco Daily.

Here’s the full top 10 list:

Van and pickup bestsellers chart, April 2020

Also read:

>> The UK’s bestselling vans and pickups

>> Coronavirus advice for van and pickup drivers

>> How to buy a van or pickup online

>> 2020 Commercial Vehicle Show cancelled

>> How to get a payment holiday on your van or pickup