UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations grew to 22,098 units in January, a year-on-year increase of 25.8%, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The growth represents the first rise in new LCV registrations since the September plate change last year, and while full year growth is expected in 2023, January is traditionally a volatile month due to the intermittent nature of fleet renewal, with this year -6.2% below pre-pandemic January 2020.1

Registrations increased across all weight classes, besides small vans weighing up to two tonnes, with deliveries of the most popular vans, those weighing greater than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes, rising by 34.1%, and vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes up 3.3%. Vans weighing up to 2.0 tonnes, meanwhile fell -22.6%. The smaller volume pickup and 4×4 segments grew by 20.6% and 62.7% respectively.

In further positive news, January saw record deliveries of battery electric vans for the month, up 53.5% to 993 units, accounting for one in 22 vans joining UK roads. With nearly 40 plug-in LCV models currently available and more in the pipeline this year, the trend is set to continue, with the latest market outlook anticipating 2023 BEV uptake to rise by 64.5% to some 28,000 units.


Hill Wooldridge & Co

Amplified by green fleet investment, the total LCV market is also set to grow this year, with 321,000 van registrations targeted, amounting to an uplift of 13.9% – with a market value of more than £13 billion, a £1.5 billion increase on 2022.2

To maintain the UK’s position as the second largest van market in Europe, while meeting escalating targets for sales of new zero emission vans from 2024 to 2030, we need an equally ambitious plan to drive demand. This must include binding targets on the rollout of van-suitable charging infrastructure to give drivers and operators the confidence that they will be able to charge affordably whenever and wherever they need. Similarly, maintaining purchase incentives as part of a long-term approach will be essential, given the additional costs of these new technologies and the need to accelerate zero emission fleet renewal.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The LCV sector is already delivering growth for the UK in 2023, bucking the recessional economic trends. Manufacturers have invested billions to bring choice to the market, especially in electrified vehicles, so harnessing this momentum will be essential to an increasingly green recovery. Accelerating electric van uptake means delivering infrastructure and incentives to give every van operator the confidence to make the switch.

1 UK LCV registrations, January 2020: 23,557 units.
2 Based on SMMT market outlook and JATO average new car van retail price in 2022.