Production & registration of UK commercial vehicles is up

Author: Greg Gowans

Figures recently released by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have revealed that the production and registration of commercial motor vehicles in the UK has risen year-on-year.

Truck registrations in 2023 were up 13.5% – the best performance since 2019. In particular, demand soared for rigid and articulated trucks, rising by 14.7% and 12.2% respectively.

The SMMT notes that operators are also investing in new zero emission trucks, with electric and hydrogen registrations up more than threefold in 2023. However, this accounts for just 0.5% of the market. In light of this, the SMMT has warned that “the clock is ticking with the end of sale of new, non-zero emission trucks under 26 tonnes coming in 2035”.

Amid the increase in registrations, production has also increased to record levels. UK commercial vehicle production rose 26.9% in January 2024 – the best start to a year since 2008. The figures nonetheless show that this rise was predominantly fuelled by exports; production for exports rose 49.8% year-on-year, while output for the UK declined by 4.0%.

According to the SMMT, the figures indicate growing demand for the very latest, fuel efficient trucks. However, the news comes amid a noticeable rise in the number of UK haulage companies entering administration. In November 2023, a report by accountancy firm Price Bailey found that 463 haulage businesses had gone bankrupt in the previous 12 months. Two of the reasons for this were falling volumes and high interest rates. Therefore, the fear is that businesses who upgraded their fleets on credit could find it difficult to make their repayments given soaring operating costs and a lack of demand.