Increase in demand for electric vans as UK LCV market struggles

Demand for battery-electric vans grew in January despite an overall decline in the UK’s light commercial vehicle market.

The latest figures released from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that the UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market fell by -26.9% to 17,566 registrations in the first month of 2022 compared with a bumper January last year.

However, whilst diesel remained the dominant fuel type for commercial vehicles, with a 94.3% market share, demand for battery-powered vans grew 21.4% with 647 units registered, some 3.7% of the overall market.

Electric van uptake is predicted to climb significantly this year as a result of key new model launches, by 81.3% to 23,130 units, which would represent 6.4% of the market, compared with 3.6% or 12,759 units in 2021. This means roughly one in 16 new vans will be fully electric in 2022.

SMMT’s latest market outlook forecasts the LCV sector to grow 2.0% overall in 2022, to 362,620 units. This would put the market just shy of the 365,778 vehicles registered in 2019 and only -3.5% below the sector’s record year of 2016. 2023, meanwhile, is expected to continue this growth, with 387,420 registrations, overtaking 2019 and even 2016 volumes to set a new market record. Electric van registrations are predicted to rise a further 57.6% next year, to a market share of 9.4%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Despite the slow start, the van market is expected to post another strong year. While chip shortages, rising inflation and increased energy costs will have an impact, growth is still anticipated given the inexorable rise of home deliveries and broader economic recovery.

“With more battery-powered vans coming to market, the demand for these new technologies seen in January is likely to continue across the year. With uptake rates still lagging the new car market, which has the same end of sale date, the importance of bringing every lever – purchase incentives, fiscal measures and recharging infrastructure investment – to bear on this critical sector is self-evident.”