Compared to Q1 last year, registrations of HGVs (over 6 tonnes) were down by 6%, at 9,785 units.
Rigid sales took a hit, falling by 13.5%, although there was an increase in demand for artic trucks (up by 6.6%) and refuse collection vehicles (up by 7.3%). Tractors remained the most popular body type, accounting for more than 42% of new registrations in the first quarter.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Fluctuating fleet orders are a natural feature of the HGV market and, following strong demand in Q1 2017, this fall isn’t altogether unexpected.
“However, with this now the third consecutive quarter of decline, it is clear that economic and political uncertainty is having an impact. We need government to create the right conditions to give operators confidence to invest in their fleets and get more of the latest, safest and low-emission commercial vehicles on to our roads.”
The European market registered a “modest increase” in Q1 2018, according to date from ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
It says sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes) were up by 2.2%, with falls in the UK and Germany outweighed by positive results in the rest of the EU – with France the best performer, up by almost 10%.