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Van dealers hit busiest April for three years

Published to the CV Show website on

SMMT’s new registration figures for vans, 4x4s and picks-ups show almost 24,000 of the very latest models joined Britain’s roads last month, up 5.4% year on year in what was the busiest April for light commercial vehicle dealers in three years. As we saw at the CV Show 2024 – and our latest market outlook – van operators are growing plans to invest in their fleets, with around 353,000 new registrations anticipated by the end of the year.

It ought to be a concern for policymakers, however, that operators’ optimism isn’t translating into zero emission uptake, which fell by -41.2% last month compared with an uptick in April last year. It meant battery electric van (BEV) uptake stood at just 3.6% of the market, below the UK’s ambitious 2024 targets under the Vehicle Emission Trading Scheme – and the expectation is that BEVs will comprise 8.3% of the market, a decline on expectations in January. It’s important to note the scheme does provide flexibilities for manufacturers. However, government must be more proactive to truly get a mass market transition underway.

There are some incentives available for electric van rollout, namely the Plug-in Van Grant which must, at minimum, be continued at its current level. Yet while the latest zero emission van technology is highly competitive, van operators’ access to public charging infrastructure is still lacking – particularly for the largest vans, given existing chargers designed for cars are not guaranteed to be suitable for them. Government’s Local Electric Vehicle Fund is helping local authorities install on-street charging which can help the van user, but disparities between counties underline the need for a nationally joined-up strategy for getting enough chargers in the right places.

Even the most pressing and easily deliverable action can be slowed down during election year, but there continues to be a significant missed opportunity with the delay to rolling out of the UK’s driver licence derogation on 4.25-tonne zero emission vans. The move – already announced the Department for Transport but still yet to receive legislative approval – would remove five-hour training requirements that are currently holding up orders of van-derived zero emission minibuses. Making sure barriers like this preventing zero emission uptake are removed must be the goal for government if it’s serious about green growth, but it must act sooner rather than later.


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