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New Van Registrations Increase for 11th Month, but EV Uptake Stalls

The UK’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew in November by 12.7%, marking eleven consecutive months of increasing demand. This represents the largest volume for two years, demonstrating that supply chain issues continue to ease.

A total of 27,433 vans, pickups and 4x4s were registered in November, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The vast majority of these were large vans, with 18,070 vans registered between 2.5 and 3.5 tons.

The greatest volume growth, however, was in medium vans, which more than doubled from 1,744 in November 2022 to 4,554 in November 2023 year-on-year. Year-to-date numbers are similar, with only a small increase in large van registrations, but a very strong improvement in medium vans and 4x4s, showing 76.6% and 133.9% increases respectively.

Small vans improved by 10% year-on-year, but continue to do small numbers, with 396 registered in November 2022 and 437 in November 2023. 

In contrast to the strong diesel numbers, battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations have fallen for the second month, falling 17% compared to November 2022. Looking at the year in full, 2023 is on track for more BEV registrations than 2022, but this stall in demand demonstrates that van operators are not encouraged to make the switch to electric.

This hesitation could be due to lack of charge point access or concerns about running costs and battery range, but may also simply be caused by a lack of up to date information. Many van operators may simply not have the time to keep abreast of the latest EV technology and so may be unaware of current BEV performance.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “An eleventh month of growth in Britain’s van sector is hugely positive, especially given fleet renewal is key to decarbonisation. It is crucial that operator demand also translates to zero emission van uptake, driving down CO2 emissions to meet Britain’s ambitious environmental targets. These are severely threatened by Rules of Origin requirements due in less than four weeks’ time, so it is essential that a pragmatic solution is found, and fast.”