The overall UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew for the third consecutive month in March, rising by 17.3% to 47,634 units, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). March is traditionally a high volume month due to the new number plate. Number plate changes are a big deal in the UK and buyers like to have cars with a new number plate series, which boosts sales in March and September when the plate series changes.
Here is how UK number plates are configured. Starting from the left, there are two letters showing letters the region the car was registered in, followed by two numbers that indicate when the car was registered (e.g. 23 for this past March) and then finally a set of three randomly generated letters. The current number plate is a 23 plate, which was released in March 2023, and will remain the date signifier for all new cars registered between 1 March and 1 September 2023, as explained quite nicely by carwow here.
The good news from the March sales figures was the new that deliveries of battery-electric vans were up by 32.7% compared to March 2022. This was driven by an increasing choice of models, which makes switching to zero emission vehicles more compelling. 2,534 BEV vans were sold in March. The electric van market share for the month was 5.3% of the UK’s LCV market, which is an important number. A 5% market share is seen as a key milestone and tipping point for EV adoption.
There is a good selection of electric vans you can buy or lease now in the UK. These include the Mercedes eSprinter/Mercedes eVito, The SAIC Maxus eDeliver 3, the Citroen e-Relay/Peugeot e-Boxer/Vauxhall. Ford E-Transit, Citroen, e-Belingo/Peugeot e-Partner/Toyota Proace, Renault Master E-Tech, and Vauxhall e-Vivaro. On the smaller end, one can even get a Renault Zoe Van and a Citroen Ami Cargo.
The SMMT says infrastructure remains the biggest barrier to uptake, however, with a paucity of charging points that are both suitable in size and location for van use. The SMMT says the publication last week of a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate will compel a rapid increase in the sale of zero emission vans and is due to come into force in less than nine months. Infrastructure providers can therefore use the certainty this provides and catch up with the commitments made by vehicle manufacturers by investing now in infrastructure that gives more operators the confidence to transition. As part of the Powering Up Britain Plan, the UK Government says reducing carbon emissions in the transport network will be key to reaching net zero, and therefore the government is investing a further £381 million by launching the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure fund, along with £15 million for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, to help install tens of thousands of new chargers across the country, alongside private sector investment.
Vans play an important role in the transport sector and the diesel ones are a major contributor of emissions. It is really great to see more electric van models are now available and that sales are starting to grow quite nicely.
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