HGVs and bus demand grows

Demand for new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) grew for the second year running with UK registrations up 13.5% in 2023, with buses and coaches now the biggest ZEV bus market in Europe.

The latest figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed some 46,227 new trucks of all types, sizes and technologies were put on the road last year.

The bulk of new HGVs were rigid trucks, up 14.7% to 24,439 units – more than half (52.9%) of the market – while demand for articulated trucks was also strong, rising 12.2% to 21,788 units.

Britain’s new bus, coach and minibus market saw a 44.6% increase on 2022 levels as passenger confidence continues to return, although uptake remains -16.0% below 2019 levels.

A growing choice of models meant operators are investing in new zero emission trucks, with electric and hydrogen registrations up more than threefold in 2023 – by 265.6% to 234 units.

Buses meanwhile are also at the vanguard of Britain’s net zero journey, with electric or hydrogen vehicles accounting for a 45.1% of new single and double decker bus registrations – almost treble the new car market share.

With 1,159 ZEV buses of all types entering service last year, the UK is Europe’s biggest ZEV bus market by volume. Uptake has been supported by Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding, originally awarded in 2022.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Two years of growing demand for the very latest, fuel efficient trucks amid testing times reflects these vehicles’ importance to the British economy – and with some HGVs facing the same 2035 end of sale date as cars and vans, the sector is also critical to our green goals. Increasing availability of electric and hydrogen models – and record demand for them – is encouraging market growth but operators need cast-iron confidence to switch. More than ever, government must compel truck infrastructure rollout and provide a signal that the time to invest is now.

“Britain’s bus sector is recovering strongly, powered by rising passenger numbers and government funding that is finally delivering new vehicles to routes up and down the country. Zero emission buses are on the verge of becoming the mainstay of what is now Europe’s biggest ZEV but market but we need the next round of funding – fast – to put even more on the road. Speeding up licence derogations could unleash demand in the minibus market, helping provide zero emission mass mobility for all with the air quality, carbon emission and wider economic benefits that come with this transition.”

Image from Shutterstock

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