SMMT reports van market ends year up, BEV demand stays strong

Looking at the UK yearly figures for 2021, new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations ended the year up 21.4%, some 62,723 units more than last year and just -2.8% down on 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

355,380 new light commercial vehicles were registered in the year, ending with the best December for the sector since 2015 with a 7.8% increase. 

The robustness of the LCV market was due in part to strong underlying demand from key sectors – notably construction and home deliveries – with significant fleet investments resulting in 62,723 more units being registered in the last year than in 2020. This performance is only marginally weaker than the strong 2019 market (-2.8%) and the five-year pre-Covid average (-3.0%). 

BEV uptake increased by 142.3% last year, equating to 12,759 zero emission vans and a total market share of 3.6%.  

Looking forward to 2022, the LCV market is predicted to grow further to 363,700 units, bringing registrations in line with 2019’s 365,778 units. 

Meanwhile the 2021 picture for cars was more challenging, with 1.65m new vehicles registered – up just 1.0% on 2020 and -28.7% below pre-Covid levels - as the semiconductor shortage and other factors had an impact on the market. 

Plug-in vehicles account for a record more than one in six registrations, while battery electric cars (BEVs) alone rise to make up one-in-nine, with more registered than 2016-2020 combined. 

190,727 new BEVs joined Britain’s roads, along with 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), meaning 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in. This is in addition to the 147,246 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) registered, which took a further 8.9% market share in a bumper year for electrified car registrations, meaning over a quarter of the total market is now electrified in some form. 

The UK finished 2021 as the third largest European market for new car registrations but the second largest by volume for plug-in vehicles and the second largest for BEVs. It is only in ninth position overall, however, in Europe for BEVs by market share, underlining the progress still to be made, despite the UK having among the most ambitious targets of all major markets with the end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars scheduled for 2030. 

Petrol-powered vehicles, including mild hybrids (MHEVs), remain Britain’s most popular powertrain, accounting for 58.3% of all new cars registered in 2021, with diesel-powered cars including MHEVs making up 14.2% of the market, followed by BEVs at 11.6%, HEVs at 8.9% and PHEVs at 7.0%.