Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the economy last year, van and truck sales remained steady throughout, growing month on month and, with renewed economic faith later on in the year, returning confidence-boosting figures for UK manufacturing and, with larger-sized van registrations growing year on year in December, better news for van insurance brokers especially.
The figures may be distored slightly by the amount of new vans bought for old to coincide with the regulation changes for driving about London on January the third. As Londoners returned to work from the festivities, their lungs should have been cleaner, nasal senses less clouded as vans that don’t comply with the new Euro III emission regulations find themselves with fines of £100, which can be charged daily if you persist in breaking the law.
Even if that thought was on many van drivers minds, the penchant for upgrading to vehicles equipped with engines that satisfy new regulations with larger capacities only helped sales growth in larger commercial vehicle based on Dec ’10 – Dec ’11 figures and saw a slight demise in registrations of pickup 4x4s and vans up to 2.0 ton in capacity for the same period.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who now have a permanent seat in Westminster, such has become their auhority and understanding of this sector of the market and its place in the economy, have welcomed the figures. However, their CEO, Paul Everitt has warned that their is no room for back-patting and these figures will prove nothing if the automotive industry does not use them as a springboard for 2012.
Ideally situated now, Paul will use the SMMT’s new recognition to lobby the government this year to make good on promises it has made to implement its strategy for growth to further develop business strength, thus encouraging consumer confidence.
The commercial vehicle industry sector must consolidate its growth
One of the areas that Paul will do well to keep his eye on is the further investigations by the Office of Fair Trading into the rising costs of van insurance. Nothing will rock the industry more than importing thousands of new of the larger vans, which seem to be more popular based on the current figures, than have millions of pounds tied up in showrooms and on forecourts because sole traders simply cannot buy new and afford the not-so cheap van insurance premiums being qutyed for that size vehicle.
The same can be said for larger commercial vehicles. The registration of 2-axle rigid trucks continues to grow markedly, reported as growing beween 30-90% across its various weight classifications for that type of lorry.
The growth is a timely boost and above target, but one has to keep in mind that this year’s targets were set when the economic crisis was at its worst so were set conservatively.
The growth in this area does support the domestic sector in an industry that, overall, represents over 10% of all UK exports. If the government can increase domestic confidence and maintain growth in the areas in these hot sectors in van registrations, coupled with driving down van insurance premiums, 2012 may well turn out to be a bumper year for our sector of UK industry.