The new light commercial vehicle market declined -3.6% to 362,149 units in 2017 amid economic and political uncertainty following Brexit.
But the performance was still the third highest on record, according to figures from the SMMT.
The markets for vans under 2.0 tonnes and heavy vans weighing 2.5-3.5t drove the overall annual decline, falling -20.3% and -3.1% respectively.
However, demand for pick-ups and smaller vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes saw uplifts of 7.8% and 2.3% respectively, compared with 2016.
The decline in the new van market follows a similar fall in new car sales in 2017. New car registrations fell -5.7% in 2017 to 2,540,617 units, the first decline in six years.
The SMMT described the market as “very volatile” and with “lacklustre economic growth” it expected further weakening in the market for 2018.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “While the market has slowed in 2017, this was in line with expectations and demand remains at a high level.
“In fact, LCV registrations have increased 62.5% since 20101. For 2018, however, we expect the economic and political uncertainty to continue to affect the market so government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is fastest way to reduce overall emissions.”