Britain’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew for the ninth month in a row in September, up more than 28% according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). One of the most popular months for new van purchases, plate change September saw robust demand for commercial vehicles – with even more good news for electric commercial vehicles to follow in January.
The record for single month commercial EV registrations had been held by March 2023 with 2,534, but that figure was beaten by almost 14% last month. There are now close to 50,000 commercial EVs on the UK's roads.
One factor here is increased demand, but the upwards trend is also thanks to a large number of new models coming to market, seeing what was once a very small choice of models expand dramatically. Competitive commercial charging tariffs and equipment are also being made more readily available from the major operators.
Various grants, promotions and increasing model choice continues to boost demand for battery electric vans (BEVs). In September, deliveries increased to 2,882 units – with BEVs accounting for one in 16 of all new vans registered that month. Putting it way above any other month in the previous year.
Also, the cost of fuel for commercial vehicles is prohibitive. Simple comparisons, on a small scale, show that running EVs can be almost half the price of fossil fuelled vehicles – even when charging on expensive public networks. Charging ‘at base', drops the price much further.
With 25 zero emission van models now available in the UK, these vehicles already carry out a wide range of roles – from local businesses to some of the country’s largest organisations.
As a result, a UK record 14,296 electric vans have been registered since January, commanding 5.5% of the overall market. But those numbers are set to be completely overshadowed next year.
Van manufacturers now face new ‘zero emission van sales quotas' starting at 10% in January – which will change the mis of products that are being promoted to potential customers. Even so, the SMMT has expressed concerned that there is till a clear need for a national plan – one that gives more van operators the confidence to make net zero investments. In particular, the public charging infrastructure must be suitable for vans of all shapes and sizes, so that van drivers (like their passenger car counterparts) can realise the full benefits of zero emission motoring.
So which electric vans are selling best? Well, according to Stellantis, the Vauxhall Vivaro Electric has been the best selling LCV this year in the commercial BEV space.
Smart pricing might have something to do with that. The company offers customers a £2,500 e-LCV Grant on small and medium electric vans. That's on top of the existing government grant for electric vans, worth up to £5,000. Businesses and sole traders operating in the recently expanded London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) can also apply for up to £9,500 to scrap a non-compliant van and replace it with an electric model – meaning customers could enjoy up to £17,000 off a new electric van.
James Taylor, Managing Director, Vauxhall, said: “The Vivaro Electric continues to be the electric van of choice for UK businesses, with the Combo Electric following closely behind. As of September, Combo Electric is proudly being produced at our Ellesmere Port facility, which is the UK’s first electric-only plant.”
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Vans are irreplaceable workhorses that keep Britain on the move, so a bumper September capping nine months of growing fleet renewal is good news for the economy, the environment and society. Decarbonising this sector is fundamental to the wider net zero transition and, as vans are business critical, urgent measures are needed to grow operator confidence to invest now, in 2024 and beyond. In particular, the specific needs of van operators must be considered when planning public charging strategies.”
The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy and integral to supporting the delivery of the agendas for levelling up, net zero, advancing global Britain, and the plan for growth. Automotive-related manufacturing contributes £78 billion turnover and £16 billion value added to the UK economy, and typically invests around £3 billion each year in R&D. With more than 208,000 people employed in automotive manufacturing, and some 800,000 in total across the wider sector, the industry trades globally, with exports worth £94 billion accounting for 10% of all UK goods exports.
Will be good to see all of this moving across to a carbon neutral basis in the near future.