Opinion: Van market struggling to integrate BEVs into everyday businesses

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By Andy Picton, chief commercial vehicle editor at Glass’s

Registrations in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew by 5.4% in April, marking the sixteenth consecutive month of growth.

Some 23,889 new LCVs were registered in April, but demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) slumped 42.4%.

In the best April for three years (Apr 2021 – 30,440 units), there was growth across all the main sectors.

The pickup sector recorded a 16.2% increase in registrations to 2,487 units, whilst vans in the below 2.0 tonne sector logged a 41.1% rise.

Vans between 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes GVW rose by 6.8% to 4,611 units whilst vans with gross vehicle weights between 2.5t and 3.5t saw registrations increase 3.3% to 15,714 units and represented nearly 66% of all units registered in the month.

Ford again recorded a strong month, with the Transit, Transit Custom, Ranger pickup and Transit Connect (1,003 units) finishing in first, second, fourth and seventh positions.

The Vauxhall Vivaro, Vauxhall Combo and Peugeot Partner from the Stellantis Group finished in third, eighth (951 units) and tenth (829 units) respectively, whilst the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter finished in fifth place.

The Volkswagen Transporter ended the month in sixth place with 1,218 units registered and the Renault Trafic claimed ninth spot with 852 units.

Top five LCV registrations

YTD 2024

April 2024

April 2023

Ford Transit Custom

13,996

Ford Transit

2,148

Ford Transit Custom

2,295

Ford Transit

10,748

Ford Transit Custom

1,920

Ford Transit

1,792

Ford Ranger

6,522

Vauxhall Vivaro

1,661

Vauxhall Vivaro

1,469

Vauxhall Vivaro

6,423

Ford Ranger

1,416

Citroen Berlingo

1,273

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

6,060

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

1,411

Ford Ranger

1,054

 

Electric van registrations

April recorded a 42.4% drop in new BEV registrations. Only 861 units were registered compared with 1,494 during the corresponding month last year.

This represented a monthly market share of 3.6% – down 3.0% on April 2023.

YTD, 5,800 units have been registered compared to 5,987 over the same four-month period in 2023.

The YTD market share of 4.9% is down 0.5% over this period and reflects a market that is struggling to integrate BEVs into their everyday businesses.

With operators short on confidence, maintaining plug-in van Grant incentives and installing a dedicated LCV-suitable network of public high-speed chargers is imperative if businesses are to gain the confidence to make the switch.

April saw Vauxhall take top spot registering 235 electric light commercial vehicles (24.7% share of EV market), ahead of Ford with 130 units (13.7%) and Maxus with 122 units (12.8%). Volkswagen finished fourth with 116 units (12.2%) and Nissan fifth with 107 units (11.3%).

By range, Vauxhall registered 129 eCombo vans in April. The Volkswagen ID Buzz Cargo placed second with 116 new vans, whilst the Nissan Townstar electric saw their 107 new vans take third place. Fourth was the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric with 106 units and fifth was the Ford E-Transit with 87units.

YTD, BYD (100%), Peugeot (13.8%), Maxus (12.6%) and Nissan (10.4%) are currently the only manufacturers to meet the minimum 10% mandate sales share target for BEVs.

Renault with 7.8%, Vauxhall (7.3%), Volkswagen (6.6%) and Toyota (6.3%) are all moving in the right direction.

An additional 94 BEVs above the 3.5t GVW from Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Maxus, Renault Trucks, Fiat and Iveco were registered during the month, giving an overall BEV registration total of 955 units for April (-2,049 units on March 2024).

The latest SMMT outlook expects the UK’s new van market to grow by 3.3% to 353,000 units this year, while BEV market share has been revised downwards to 8.3% from 9.4% in the January outlook.

BEV volumes are still expected to rise by 44.1% in 2024 to 29,000 units, but uptake is set to remain below the sales targets set for manufacturers in the Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme (VETS). 

With some manufacturers scrambling to meet compliance, the sale of BEVs could be prioritised with vehicles becoming cheaper whilst at the same time, the sale of ICE products could be diverted to other countries to avoid heavy fines. 

However, through VETS, manufacturers can sell, buy, bank, borrow or convert CO2 emission allowances to help them meet targets.

Used LCV market overview

Moving through Q1 and into Q2, prices have started to soften a little. This is to be expected as stock volumes have increased.

During this period, clean, low mileage stock has been selling strongly regardless of vehicle specification.

Conversely, harder-worked and higher mileage examples requiring more preparation before sale have seen values struggle.

The volume of sales increased over the month of April, with Euro 6 vehicles making up over 75% of the total.

Average age was down 1.3 months to 51.9 months, whilst average mileage reduced by 6.5% to just over 68,500 miles. Their average selling price was £9,950, up £125 on March.

Used electric vans made up nearly 1.4% of all sales at auction, down 0.3% on March.

The average age of these vehicles was 70.3 months (up 9.9 months) and average mileage was just over 41,725 miles.

The average selling price for electric vans was down over £800 on March at just under £4,200. Euro 5 stock made up the remaining 21.4% of sales, down 3.7% on the previous period.

April in detail

The volume of sales increased by nearly 3.7% over the month, with average sales prices increasing by 4.3% over the month. This figure though was still 13.7% below April 2023 price levels.

Sales price increases were helped by the average age of the sold stock which fell over the month from 78.9 months to 73.9 months. This figure was also 8.2 months lower than twelve months ago.

Average mileage also dropped nearly 6% over the month from 81,045 miles to 76,226 miles. This figure was nearly 8% lower than April 2023.

More medium vans were sold at auction than any other vehicle type, accounting for 35.6% of all auction sales. Large vans accounted for 26.4% and small vans 25.8%.

Volumes of 4×4 stock sold accounted for only 12% of all sales but attracted the strongest average sales price of £12,814 (up £561 – Mar 2024).

Large vans covered more distance than any other type of stock at an average of 80,267 miles. This was down 4,961 miles on March and over 2,150 miles lower than in April 2023.

First-time conversion rates for April reduced by 3.7% to 72.7% overall and sat 10.2% lower than 12 months ago.

Broken down, the best conversion rates were achieved in the small panel van sector at 79.4% (up 0.2% on March), whilst a conversion rate of 69.6% (down 6.4%) in the medium van sector returned the lowest.

Used vehicles observed for sale in the retail market last month increased by 2.5% to just over 44,450 units. Of these, 94.2% were diesel and 3.6% were BEVs. 42% of all vehicles on sale were valued at £20,000 or more, while 38% were on sale for between £20,000 and £10,000.

At the lower end of the market, those vehicles on sale in the £10,000 to £5,000 price bracket made up 15.7% of the overall market, whilst 4.3% were on sale for less than £5,000.

The average age of these vehicles fell from 57 months to 55 months, whilst average mileage reduced by 2.3% over the month to just over 58,400 miles.

 

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