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New HGV registrations were up by 128.7% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, revealing positive signs of recovery following the pandemic.

However the full revival of the logistics industry has some way to go, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warned this week, pointing to the pre-pandemic five-year average, which shows that truck registrations in the second quarter of 2021 actually fell 20.1%.

According to figures released today (17 August) by the SMMT the increase saw 9,493 units registered, up from 5,342 in Covid-impacted 2020.

Performance for the year to date followed a similar pattern, with 19,557 vehicles registered in 2021, revealing a 46.6% increase on 2020. However this falls short by some 7,907 trucks when compared to 2019, amounting to a 28.8% reduction.

All segments saw volume increases compared to 2020, with articulated trucks up 128.3% and rigids up 128.9% respectively, while tractors continue to be the most popular vehicle body type, making up more than a third of all registrations in the quarter (35.9%).

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The refuse disposal sector saw one of the smallest gains, up 68.4% to 586 waste collection vehicles, as local authority funding continued to be impacted by Covid, thereby delaying new orders.

SMMT warned that operators will face an uphill struggle to recover in the face of the continuing driver shortage and the sector’s tight decarbonisation deadlines.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “While it’s good – if unsurprising – to see an increase in HGV registrations, these are still relatively low numbers compared to the rapid growth the sector enjoyed before the start of the pandemic.

“As operators continue to battle against acute driver shortages, the sector faces a longer term and more significant challenge as the Government proposes the complete decarbonisation of this sector by 2040.

“This would be an incredibly tough timeline when the technological solutions are unclear, with nearly all of the sector diesel-powered. The sector needs stability, certainty and support if it is to develop the technologies and make them commercially viable for our heaviest mobility challenges.”