UK truck sales nearly back to pre-pandemic levels

Sales of HGVs in the UK grew by 17.1% to 11,517 registrations in the first three months of 2023, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The fourth consecutive quarter of growth, driven by high demand from the haulage, construction and distribution sectors as well as an easing of long-term global supply disruptions, means the market is now just -2.9% below Q1 2019.

The rise in registrations was led by double-digit increases of rigids and articulated trucks. The number of new rigid models joining UK roads rose by 17.3% to 5838 units, representing the highest Q1 demand for new rigid HGVs since 2019, at 50.7% of all new truck registrations.

Newly registered articulated trucks rose by 16.8% to 5679 units.

There was a rise in demand for trucks in all major segments, with tractors by far the most popular, up by 15.7% to 5585 units, while some 1079 new box vans were registered, up 15.3%.

New registrations of tippers increased by 6.8%, curtainsiders by 34.5% and dropside trucks by 38.8%.

HGV uptake grew across Great Britain, with registrations in England up 17.2%, representing 87.3% of the UK market.

Meanwhile, demand in Scotland and Wales increased by 22.0% and 22.9% respectively.

South East England welcomed the most (21.0%) newly registered HGVs, followed by other key UK logistics regions including the North West (13.7%) and East Midlands (12.5%).

As truck manufacturers invest heavily to introduce new zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) with 20 models currently available in the UK, the latest electric and hydrogen HGVs represented just 0.3% of the market.

Given the absence of a single HGV-dedicated public charging or hydrogen refuelling station in the UK, and with the sale of new non-ZEV trucks under 26 tonnes due to end in 2035, further measures are needed for operators across the UK to make the switch, SMMT said.