New truck registrations fell for the first time in two years with an almost 4% decline in Q1, latest figures showed.

Operators registered 11,068 new HGVs between January and March, 449 fewer units than the same period last year, which the SMMT said was the strongest start to a year since the pandemic.

Rigid HGVs saw overall volumes rising by 8.4% year on year to 6,327 units; however, uptake of articulated HGVs fell by 16.5% year on year to 4,741 units.

The business group said that as a result, the overall market shifted from being split roughly equally between the two vehicle types, to rigids taking almost six in 10 new registrations – representing a normalisation in the market following a fulfilment of pent-up demand over the past 12 months.

The demand for tractor units also fell 16.7%, while tipper uptake declined by 6.3%.

However, the SMMT also said that there was strong growth in curtainsiders, which increased 23.1%; flat lorries (21.6%) and box vans (20.6%).

Uptake across the country varied, with the South West recording proportionally the largest growth in the UK, with 994 new HGVs entering service, up 11.8% on last year.

East Anglia recorded the largest decline, down -26.4% to 457 units.

The South East remained, by a considerable margin, the biggest investor in new heavy vehicles, with 2,351 reaching the road despite a 2.7% decline – more than a fifth of all new registrations.

Zero emission vehicle uptake reached 0.5% of overall registrations, up from 0.3% in the same quarter last year – still low in comparison with the car and van markets, although an improvement of 56.3% in volume terms on last year.

The SMMT added that reforming the grant and implementing a national infrastructure plan would help more businesses switch to zero emission HGVs.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The truck sector currently stands steady, with just a small decline in uptake compared with a very strong quarter last year.

“Following two solid years of market growth, however, more action is needed to sustain green fleet renewal to decarbonise UK road transport.

“Zero emission truck uptake remains a fractional part of the market but, with just over a decade until the first phase of the end of sale of fossil fuel HGVs, operators need inspirational incentives and infrastructure provision to accelerate their investments.”