Light commercial vehicle (LCV) market down in July in the UK while the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) increases once again

The UK’s new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined for the seventh consecutive month in July. According to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), it was down 20.7 percent to 18,722 units. That said electric LCV bucked the trend with registrations rising 21.2 percent in the month. 

The decline, despite strong order books, is the result of ongoing global supply shortages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with last month’s registrations total some 23.9 percent below the pre-pandemic five-year average for July.

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As industry investment in battery electric vans continues, with one in three models on the market now available with a plug, demand continues to increase with 765 electric vans registered in July. 

This is up 21.2 percent and a continuation of increased uptake seen in the first six months of 2022, as van buyers take advantage of new electric models that offer longer ranges, efficiency savings and fast charge times. 

As a result, there have been 8,865 battery electric vans registered in the year to date, an increase of 55.7 percent. This still represents only one in 18 of all vans registered so far in 2022 but is up from one in 37 a year ago.

With total registration volumes remaining weak, the industry outlook has been downgraded from 328,000 to 307,000 new registrations for the year, a decline of 6.5 percent on the previous outlook published in April. As a result, the market is now expected to finish 13.7 percent down on 2021, which saw uptake almost reach pre-pandemic levels.

With the semiconductor shortage expected to begin to ease during 2023, volumes for the year are anticipated to reach 357,000 units, a 16.4 percent rise. Meanwhile, electric vehicles (EVs) are still expected to account for 6.4 percent of LCV registrations this year. The 2023 outlook has been revised downwards slightly, from 9.6 percent to 9.2 percent.

The shortage of dedicated electric charge points for this sector remains a critical obstacle to the achievement of ambitious timescales for the decarbonisation of the commercial vehicle fleet. That said, charging infrastructure is growing. An example of this is the recent opening of Energy Superhub Oxford, Europe’s most powerful EV charging hub.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The LCV market is struggling to recover post-Covid as global supply chain shortages and economic headwinds make the business environment even more challenging for both manufacturers and operators. In these circumstances, the continued growth in electric van uptake is admirable as the industry strives to deliver its net zero commitments. 

“Given the importance of the commercial vehicle sector to Britain’s economy, its environmental ambitions and the need to keep society on the move, the next Prime Minister must look to restore economic confidence and support the sector’s transition to zero emission mobility.”

Many companies are leading the way with electric vans. DPD for example, announced its plans to deliver low and zero-emission vehicles to 25 of the UK’s largest towns and cities by 2025. Plus, they announced Oxford as its first all-electric city using only zero-emission vehicles for its deliveries.

Amazon is also moving forwards with its transition to electric vehicles for its deliveries. In 2021, they have also put in orders with Rivian and Mercedes for electric vans and recently announced a collaboration with Stellantis to increase this.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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