UK sees five straight quarters of truck fleet growth

In News3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 1, 2023

The UK market for new heavy goods vehicles grew by 17.2% to 11,174 units in the second quarter of 2023, the fifth consecutive quarter of growth, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Growth was driven primarily by registrations of articulated trucks, up 23.3% to 5121 units, while deliveries of rigid trucks rose by 12.5% to 6053. That reflects increased demand across the majority of truck segments, with tractors continuing to be the most popular by some distance, up by 23.7% to 5047 units and a 45.2% market share.

Registrations of box vans grew 14.2% to 1,153 units, while deliveries of curtain sided and dropside trucks rose by 23.6% and 7.6%. Tippers were the only segment in the top five to record a decline, with registrations down -12.5%.

Uptake grew in three of the four Home Nations, with registrations in England up 17.3% to account for more than eight in 10 (86.6%) UK deliveries. Demand in Scotland and Northern Ireland also rose, with registrations up 34.9% and 5.0% respectively, while deliveries in Wales fell by -7.5% following a strong period of fleet renewal in Q1 this year. By region, operators in South East England registered the most new trucks (20.6% of the total), followed by those in the North West (13.5%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (11.9%).

Rising demand and easing supply chain restrictions helped HGV registrations grow by 17.1% in the first half of 2023 to 22,691 units – surpassing typical pre-pandemic levels.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), five successive quarters of market growth demonstrates the confidence of HGV operators in renewing their fleets with the latest fuel-efficient trucks. This includes zero-emission models, with electric and hydrogen HGVs representing 0.4% of the market, up from 0.3% in Q1 this year.

However, SMMT said zero-emission uptake must accelerate more quickly, with the sale of new non-zero-emission HGVs weighing under 26 tonnes due to be phased out in 2035 – the same date as cars and vans.

“With just one full cycle of fleet renewal remaining before 2035, urgent action is needed to deliver HGV-dedicated public charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure – which is currently absent on UK roads – alongside support for depot infrastructure installation that matches Britain’s zero emission ambitions,” it said.

“HGV fleet renewal has flourished, finally beating pre-pandemic levels with five straight quarters of growth. Growing confidence for fleet investment is also translating into new zero emission truck demand, demand which must grow still faster if the UK’s green goals are to be achieved,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.