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Lockdown has had an adverse impact on the commercial vehicle market, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The figures show that the sale of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) has been hit especially hard, with a 36.4 percent drop in demand across 2020 so far and just 19,407 new vans and pickups registered over August. This is likely to have led to a significant drop in the demand for commercial vehicle insurance, although it will not be possible to establish this until insurers release figures for the same period.

Headline statistics for August from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders include the following:

  • Compared to August 2019 there was an 18.2 percent drop in demand for commercial vehicles weighing 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes.
  • Compared to August 2019 there was a 35 percent drop in demand for vehicles weighing 2.0 tonnes or less.
  • Compared to August 2019 there was, overall, a 16,1 percent drop in demand for all light vehicles (those weighing less than 3.5 tonnes).

Even quieter than usual

Historically, August tends to be a quiet month for both vehicle registrations and the uptake of new commercial vehicle insurance policies. This is partly due to the end-of-summer-lull but is mainly because of fleet managers’ tendency to wait until the arrival of the new September plates.

However, August 2020 has been unusually slow and there are concerns that it could have a negative impact for van manufacturers and commercial vehicle insurance companies alike. There are also concerns that it may hit clear air targets; many fleets are due to make the transition to electric vans and if they do not act soon there is a real risk that targets will not be met.

Despite this, it is hoped that the current situation will represent nothing more serious than a temporary slowdown. The light commercial vehicle market is perhaps the one that will be best able to adapt to new cleaner technologies.

For example, earlier last week Amazon announced it had ordered 1,800 electric vans from Mercedes-Benz to join its European delivery fleet – the move forms part of the retail giant’s plan to run a carbon-neutral business by 2040.

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