As new van registrations plunged for the eight successive month in 2022, vehicle manufacturers called on the new Prime Minister Liz Truss to urgently tackle energy costs and inflation and speed up the charging infrastructure roll out.

The call comes on the day Liz Truss was confirmed as the new Prime Minister. On the same day the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that the UK light commercial vehicle (LCV) market plunged by -24.6% to 15,520 units in August.

In the year to date, LCV registrations are down -24.2% on 2021 and down -27.2% on pre-pandemic 2019.

Every LCV class recorded a decline, with registrations of vans weighing more than 2.5 tonnes falling by -14.0%; vans weighing more than 2.0 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes down -45.3%; and of those equal to or less than 2.0 tonnes, -44.1%.

The biggest decline was recorded in pick-ups, which saw registrations fall by -52.2%, while 4x4s, the smallest segment by volume, declined by -49.7%.

Whilst August is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year ahead of the September plate change, these latest figures from SMMT reveal that LCV registrations have declined every month of 2022, with August registration volumes the lowest recorded for the month since 2017.

SMMT noted that the August 2022 fall in registrations contrasts sharply with August 2021 which was the second best performance on record since the introduction of the two-plate system.

The report said global supply chain challenges in 2022 have acted as a handbrake on registrations, with the impact unevenly distributed across vehicle segments. It added that the growing economic headwinds are also a concern.

Read more

On the upside, battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations rose by 14.7% to reach a 6.1% market share, up from 4.0% a year ago.

The report attributed the rise to increasing numbers of operators recognising the “considerable benefits” available, including purchase incentives, lower taxation, exemptions from congestion and clean air zone charges in urban areas, and zero emission vehicles. BEV volumes are up 50.6% over the year to date.

SMMT said that with August traditionally being a low volume month ahead of the ‘new plate month’ in September, next month will be “crucial” for manufacturers keen to repeat the success it saw in 2021.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Last year’s bumper LCV market meant it was always going to be challenging to repeat that success in 2022, and increasingly strong economic headwinds and supply chain challenges continue to test the market.

“Good progress is being made in the transition to electric, but accelerating the switch will need action from the new Prime Minister to tackle energy costs and inflation, while also encouraging greater charging infrastructure rollout, so that businesses can have greater confidence to upgrade their van fleets to cleanest, greenest models.