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Bumper harvest of new vans – but EV pickers need chargers

Published to the CV Show website on

As sure as autumn follows summer, Britain’s new light commercial vehicle market grew for the ninth month running in September, so often one of the busiest months in the calendar as operators upgrade their fleets with the new number plate. As such, some 44,633 new vans were registered in the month, according to today’s new figures from SMMT, the highest volume since March and 28.1% above September last year. The crux of the good news, however, is that these vehicles have some of the most advanced tech on UK roads, providing a range of driver assistance tools, the latest fuel efficiencies and – thanks to long-term investments from OEMs here and abroad – there are now 25 van models offering the benefits of zero emission motoring.


There has been a longer term shift towards large vans as operators opt for payload and fuel efficiencies, with registrations up 13.0% to represent 65.1% of the market in September. Demand for medium vans, meanwhile, grew 89.0% to a share of 15.8%, with a large uptick in other the smaller volume segments including pickups and 4x4s, up 64.4% and 141.8% respectively. Due to the popularity of larger models, small vans were the only segment to fall in demand, down -13.4% on the same month last year.


Whatever the model, and whether large or small van, pickup or 4×4, these vehicles are business-critical – just as much as the tractor will be to farmers during the harvest season – so it’s essential that stakeholders are paying attention to the needs of the sector at a time of national infrastructure planning and mandated targets. The Plug-in Van Grant, competitive running costs and reduced CO2 emissions continue to attract battery electric van registrations, up 85.9% to 2,882 units in September – making up 6.4% of the market in the month. Clearly, zero emission vans are already carrying out a wide range of roles for operators, be it local businesses or social enterprises or some of the UK’s largest organisations. The virtual pages of Transport News Brief have regularly been filled with green fleet and depot investments, all of which have contributed to a record 14,296 electric van registrations since January this year.


As manufacturers now face new zero emission van sales quotas starting at 10% from next January, however, there is a clear need for a national plan that gives more van operators the confidence to make the switch during the same period next year. SMMT has continued to call for public charging infrastructure plans to consider the specific needs of vans of all shapes, sizes and use cases. Given how important these vehicles are to achieving Britain’s decarbonisation targets while keeping our society and economy on the move, it is vital that van drivers – like passenger car owners – are able to realise the full benefits of zero emission motoring.


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