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New truck and bus markets begin to normalise

Published to the CV Show website on

Recent years have seen very strong demand in the new HGV market with factories working double time to meet pent-up demand since the pandemic – and thanks to those efforts, the backlog is now beginning to clear up, new SMMT figures published today show. A slight decline of -3.9%, with just over 11,000 new trucks joining UK roads, puts the market just 449 vehicles below a robust quarter one in 2023.

The aim is to reach a new normal that’s greener, and demand for zero emission trucks is growing thanks to huge investments by manufacturers to deliver new battery electric models to the UK market, with uptake accelerated by the Zero Emission Road Freight Demonstration Truck Trial. It means uptake of the greenest, cleanest HGVs rose by 56.3% on last year, albeit still representing half a percent of the overall market.

While manufacturers are investing, innovating and informing operators of all the benefits of making the switch, currently fewer than half of the models being offered in the UK are eligible for the Plug-in Truck Grant. Given that, at the same time, Britain’s incentive scheme is less attractive than those in other major markets, the emphasis must be on other stakeholders to step up their support for a wider range of operators to go green. Another priority, as SMMT made clear at the CV Show last month, must be to deliver a national infrastructure strategy that’s dedicated to the needs of heavy vehicles.

Market stabilisation for the bus, coach and minibus sector means growth, meanwhile, with operator confidence growing thanks to rising passenger numbers, with the new vehicle market up 74.6% in quarter one. Demand for minibuses has more than doubled, up 118.8% to 851 units, with these vehicle playing a really important role across UK communities, from school and rural community services to social care transport.

Britain had the largest new zero emission bus market in Europe last year and growth is continuing, up 22.9% – the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) fund having an important role, though it’s worth noting there are also operators making the switch without such support. With the local transport authorities that have won funding in the second ZEBRA round now announced, however, more green registrations can be expected in the coming few years.


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