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UK New LCV Registrations – 2023 in Review

2023 was a very strong year for new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registration, with demand growing by 21% to 341,455 units, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Performance was so strong that each month of 2023 showed growth over the previous year, which included a record number of zero emissions LCVs.

Individually, December reported a 36.1% increase in registrations – the best December since 2015. Increased investment contributed to much of the growth, with a reported additional £2 billion being spent by companies that carry out essential roles in the economy, from local trades to retailers and online delivery services.

Throughout the year, the most popular LCV category was that of large vans, between 2.5 tonnes and 3.5 tonnes. 66.9% of all new vans registered in 2023 were in this category, a total of 228,442 units. Medium vans (between 2.0 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes) made up 57,882 units, an increase of 78.4% over the previous year, while registrations of small vans (weighing less than two tonnes) declined by 23.7% to 5,955 units.

This trend towards larger vehicles shows that businesses are choosing economy and efficiency when considering their upgrade.

The move towards zero emissions vehicles has shown lots of progress, with new battery electric van (BEV) registrations increasing by 21% to 20,253 units. December alone was a 73.8% increase year-on-year, from 1,705 to 2,964. 2023’s result has made the UK the third largest BEV market in Europe by volume, but leaves some work to be done when comparing market share.

Going forward, the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate is now in place, requiring that 10% of every van manufacturer’s UK sales must be BEVs in 2024. In 2023, BEV market share was 5.9%, so achieving this target will require a serious commitment. Ensuring supply can match demand is important, but so too is the development of, and investment in, the electric infrastructure across the UK.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Rising demand for new vans in every month of 2023 – along with record uptake of battery electric vans – is positive news for the UK, given the vital role of these vehicles in keeping businesses and the economy moving. Demand for new vans is also essential for decarbonisation and, as the UK’s ambitious mandate for electric van sales comes into effect, every lever must be pulled to make the switch accessible for fleets in every region. If 2024 is to be the year of the electric van, investment in chargepoint infrastructure is mission-critical – bringing with it the successful green transition and economic growth the nation needs.”