Figures published today by SMMT show HGV registrations for 2022 rose by 9.6% to 40,716 units in 2022, thanks to a good second half performance. A slight decline in Q1 was offset by growth in Q2, before a strong Q3 and 14.4% year-on-year growth in Q4, reflecting an improvement in supply chain shortages and logistics disruptions that have brought great challenges to the wider CV sector since the pandemic began.
Indeed, the first full year of open trading since 2019 saw robust demand from the haulage, construction and distribution sectors, showing an increased appetite for fleet renewal that bodes well for the HGV sector’s long-term post-pandemic recovery, as well as its transition to the next generation of lower and zero emission trucks.
Last year saw a number of manufacturers bringing updated or new internal combustion engine product to market, which helped order books to swell as the entire sector is preparing to make the transition. Truck manufacturers are already investing heavily to bring electric, hydrogen and other new technology models to market, but operators need long-term certainty to make the necessary purchase investments, particularly given the long-term nature of fleet renewal.
There is not yet a single net zero technology that can meet the needs of all HGV use cases, but given the importance of decarbonisation and the many benefits it will offer to operators, the UK must draw up a long-term plan that gives the HGV sector greater clarity and confidence to make the switch. All stakeholders need to play their part, particularly to develop public recharging or refuelling infrastructure that meets the unique needs of heavy goods vehicles and their drivers.
SMMT has also published its 2022 registration figures for the UK’s new bus and coach market, which fell by a slight -1.6%, with 3,411 new single-deck, double-deck buses and minibuses joining Britain’s roads. As the bus fleet is essential to delivering Net Zero and providing vital mobility to people across the country, another year of decline means that action is needed to restore confidence.
There were signs that ridership levels were beginning to increase last year, following a sharp drop since the pandemic began. Rollout has been accelerated by the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, with further deliveries expected this year, but progress will depend on a more efficient and timely funding process that enables manufacturers to deliver these all-important vehicles at a greater pace.
The bus and coach sector is relatively advanced in its green transition, with the proportion of the bus parc that is zero emission already on par with cars at the end of 2021, helping to improve air quality and reduce CO2 across UK cities and regions. Meanwhile, this next generation of buses also improves the passenger experience, via more sleek, smooth and quiet journeys, with the potential to refresh perceptions of the sector as the innovative, net zero sector that it is.
There is optimism in both sectors for 2023 and I’m looking forward to sharing more positive news in the weeks and months ahead.
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