UK van registrations saw a fifth consecutive month of decline in May, falling by a quarter ( -25.1%) to 22,000 units, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

However electric van registrations continue to rise, with SMMT reporting a leap of almost a third to 869 registrations - 276 more than last May.

SMMT said that whilst the results for van registrations are in comparison to last year's record results, which saw the highest May registrations total in history, the market was still  -21.5% below the pre-pandemic average, as component shortages restricted production and delivery.

The research shows that all segments of diesel van registrations saw a fall in volumes during the month, although larger vans weighing more than 2.5 tonnes were less impacted, with a decline of -19.4%. Medium vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes declined by -33.4%.

The largest fall was recorded in the 4×4 sector (-80.7%), although SMMT noted that this is a low volume segment which is subject to volatility.

SMMT said electric van registrations for the year to date are 62.7% higher than last year, due in part down to significant large fleet orders delivered earlier in the year. As a result, over the year to date, overall battery electric vehicle (BEV) market share has more than doubled to 5.2% – which SMMT said is "testament to the growing choice provided by manufacturers", with one in three models now available as a plug-in.

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However, the sector still lags behind the new car market, where, in the year to date, BEVs make up 14.0% of new registrations.  SMMT said that that with pure petrol and diesel cars and vans facing the same 2030 end of sale date, the need for a ‘van plan’ to encourage operators to make the switch by providing long term incentives and dedicated van charging infrastructure is "readily apparent".

Despite the rise in BEV registrations, only one in 20 new registrations are for electric vans, and account for around one in 180 in use. SMMT said this is evidenced by its survey released last month that revealed 58% of existing van owners would be encouraged to switch to an EV if there were more public charging points, while 57% said that government incentives such as reduced tax or grants towards purchase would help them to transition to electric.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Global supply chain shortages continue to hold back the market following last May’s post-pandemic bounce back. Manufacturers have, however, worked hard to get the latest zero-emission vans to customers, more than doubling their market share.

"However, this is still an emerging market and everything must be done to encourage drivers to switch to zero emission commercial vehicles if we are to achieve our net zero goals. The industry will tackle the supply chain challenges undermining delivery but we urgently need a van plan to address the paucity of dedicated commercial vehicle infrastructure, as well as incentives to boost the sector’s electric transition.