Total registrations reached 423,894 units – a rise of more than 16% on the previous year.
Demand for vans hit a record high – registrations were up by 15.6% to 371,830, making it the best year for manufacturers since 2007.
Trucks also showed robust growth, with registrations up by 25.5% to 52,064 units, following a slower year in 2014 when fleet renewal patterns were distorted by the impact of type approval regulations on multi-stage N2 and N3 bodied vehicles.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, describes the result as “excellent news” both for the sector and the wider economy.
“CV demand is a key barometer of UK economic confidence and the market’s strong growth in 2015 was particularly encouraging. However, with these record figures in mind, we will expect to see the market levelling off slightly in 2016.”
Looking at monthly results, the top LCV performers were 2.5 to 3.5 tonne vans, with unit registrations up by more than 25% at 20,438 units, compared to December 2014.
In the heavier vehicle categories, results were even better: 6 to 16-tonne rigids rose by 111% against December 2014, although with numbers still relatively low at 708 units, while rigids over 16 tonnes were up by 155% at 1,237 units registered.
Two-axle tractor registrations rose by almost 83% last December to 395 units, but it was three-axle tractor units that stole the show – witnessing 74% growth to 1,930 units registered during December 2015.
As for the annual picture, vans in the 2.5—3.5 tonne bracket registered 222, 342 units – up 21.3% on 2014 and taking by far the lion’s share of the van market.
Meanwhile, rigids over 16 tonnes dominated this sector, seeing 27.2% growth year on year, with 14,650 units registered, compared to early 8,000s for the 3.5—6 tonne and 6—16 tonne brackets.
But again, three-axle tractors were the biggest story in 2015, with registrations up 40.9% on the previous year at a grand total of 18,768. Two-axle tractors saw 4.8% growth to 2,366 units registered last year.
In terms of marques, in the sub-3.5 tonne sector Ford, Volkswagen and Vauxhall took the top three spots for year-on-year increases, with improvements of 27%, 11% and 11% respectively.
For 3.5 to 6 tonnes, Ford also took top spot with a 34% year-on-year rise, followed by Fiat (24%) and Mercedes (23%).
For CVs over 6 tonnes, DAF Trucks saw the greatest rise last year, up by 26%, with Mercedes in second place (18%). Other double-digit improvers in this category were Scania (16%) and Volvo (12%).
Breaking that down to the biggest players in the heavy-duty sectors, however, on three axle tractors, Scania was number one, with 4,098 sold (21.8% f the market), followed closely by Mercedes-Benz, then Volvo, DAF and MAN.
On four-axle rigids, Scania again took the top slot, with 29.8% of the market, followed by Volvo, then DAF and Mercedes-Benz.
On three-axle rigids, DAF led the field at 27% of tghe market, followed by Mercedes-Benz, then Dennis, Scania and Volvo.
Then on two-axle rigids at 7.5, the top player was DAF at 34% of the market, followed by Iveco (21%), then Isuzu and Fuso, while in the 6.0—7.5 tonne range, Iveco was top dog at 1,733 units solfd (31.5% of the market), leaving DAF in second place , followed again by Isuzu and Fuso.