Sales of new light-duty trucks in March were down 27.6% year-on-year as supply of large and mid-size cargo vans remained limited.
Registrations of large vans, which account for more than two-thirds of the new commercial vehicle market, totaled 29,230 units, down 18.9% or 6,802 units from March last year.
The drop in mid-size vans, between 2.0 and 2.5 tonnes, was 27.6% or 2,122 units.
Small vans, meanwhile, fell by 2,186 units (a drop of 70.8%) and pickup trucks by 4,176 units (-48.4%).
Mike Hawes, Managing Director of SMMT, said: “The light commercial vehicle market got off to a slower start in 2022 compared to the first quarter of last year, reflecting the cyclical nature of fleet operator investments, amid global shortage of supply and growing economic pressures.
“Targeted government support is needed to encourage fleet renewal and a comprehensive zero-emission van market.
“The expansion of the Plug-in Van Grant will be positive for the sector, but there also needs to be a greater deployment of suitable charging stations to ensure that fleets and independent van operators in all regions can make the transition. .”
Diesel vans still dominate the market, with a 93.5% market share, unlike the automotive market where diesel sales have fallen from half of sales in 2015 to around one in 10 by the end of 2021.
But some van operators are switching to rechargeable power. Compared to the first quarter of last year, the adoption of electric vans increased by 68.9% to reach a market share of 5.8%, more than double a year ago, but still far behind fully electric passenger cars.