Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed that heavy goods vehicle (HGV) registrations in the UK increased by 13.5% in 2023.  

This marks the second consecutive year of growth and the highest annual total since 2019, indicating robust investment by businesses in their fleet operations. 

The bulk of the 46,227 newly registered HGVs were rigid trucks, which increased 14.7% to 24,439 units, accounting for more than half of the market.  

Strong demand was also seen for articulated trucks, with registrations rising by 12.2% to 21,788 units.  

Registration of tractors, the most popular truck body type, rose by 12.4%, making up 46.4% of the market. 

Other truck types also saw growth, with box vans used for urban distribution of chilled and fragile goods rising by 19.2%.  

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Curtain-sided trucks and refuse vehicles increased by 37.4% and 14.4%, respectively.  

However, tipper registrations saw a decline of 9.2% compared to a strong performance in 2022. 

Investment in new vehicles was evident across all UK nations, with England leading at 87.5% of registrations, followed by significant growth in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  

The South East of England, home to several large ports, remained the largest region for truck demand, with over one in five registrations. 

Despite nearing pre-pandemic levels, with just a 4.8% shortfall, the UK’s HGV market still faces challenges, particularly in transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.  

Registrations of electric and hydrogen trucks surged by 265.6% to 234 units in 2023, yet they represent only 0.5% of the market.  

With the impending 2035 deadline for the sale of new non-zero emission trucks under 26 tonnes, the industry calls for a viable commercial transition. 

SMMT emphasised the need for a national charge point strategy that supports HGVs, highlighting the recent opening of the UK’s first truck-dedicated public charge point in the North West.  

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Two years of growing demand for the very latest, fuel-efficient trucks amid testing times reflects these vehicles’ importance to the British economy – and with some HGVs facing the same 2035 end-of-sale date as cars and vans, the sector is also critical to our green goals.  

“Increasing availability of electric and hydrogen models – and record demand for them – is encouraging market growth but operators need cast-iron confidence to switch. More than ever, the government must compel truck infrastructure rollout and provide a signal that the time to invest is now.”