Commercial vehicles

    Market for light commercial vehicles less affected by corona crisis

    Due to the positive development of the online and mail order business, sales in the European light segment were comparatively solid compared with the passenger car or truck market.

    Due to the positive development of the online and mail order business, sales in the European light segment were comparatively solid compared with the passenger car or truck market.

    Sales of light commercial vehicles defy corona

    In Western Europe, after six consecutive years of growth, new registrations of commercial vehicles of up to 6 tons fell by 18% in 2020. After reaching the second highest volume ever in 2019, with more than 2 million units, 1.7 million vans were still sold in 2020. Compared with the passenger car (-24%) or truck (-26%) market, sales in the light segment were comparatively solid. This was mainly due to the continued positive development of the online and mail order business. While stores were temporarily closed in many places, households were still able to buy online and have goods delivered. As deliveries are generally made by van, this also had a positive impact on demand for this segment.

    In Western Europe, with the exception of Denmark (-6%), all individual markets recorded double-figure declines. Among these, Spain suffered the largest slump, down by around a quarter (-26%) to 159,000 vehicles. New registrations in the United Kingdom (-21%, to 299,000 vans), France (-16%, to 403,000 units) and Italy (-15%, to 161,000 units) also fell significantly. The German van market (274,000 vehicles) recorded the comparatively smallest decline of 12%.

    Relatively moderate decline for light commercial vehicles in Germany

    The German market for light commercial vehicles recorded a comparatively moderate decline in the coronavirus year of 2020. While new registrations of passenger cars and heavy trucks fell by 19 and 25%, respectively, the drop in van sales was much smaller at 12%. There were 274,400 new vehicles registered, roughly the same level as in 2017. In 2019, the German light commercial vehicle market had exceeded the 300,000-unit mark for the first time, reaching a new record for the sixth year in a row. The driver of this solid development in 2020 was once again, or rather continues to be, the rapid growth of online and mail-order sales. During the initial lockdowns, but also during the holiday shopping season, households were left with no other option than to order their desired products and have them delivered – and they made use of this. For example, one major courier, express, and parcel (CEP) service provider reported a higher volume of shipments than in the whole of 2019 as early as the end of November 2020, i.e., before the holiday business season. Since deliveries are made using light commercial vehicles, the boom in online and mail-order business is also having a positive impact on van demand.

    Doreen Hüls
    Economic Intelligence

    Doreen Hüls

    Automotive forecasts, international commercial vehicle market, US light vehicle market, research and development

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