There are just over 35.1 million cars on the roads in the UK. One in every 32 cars now comes with a plug in the United Kingdom, with 1.1 million electric cars now in use, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). There are just under 4.9 million vans, 72,722 buses and 615,570 trucks. The good news is that there has been a significant increase in the adoption of electric commercial vehicles in the UK.
The SMMT says ownership of electric commercial vehicles has risen, with vans up some 67.3% and buses and coaches increasing by 34.9%, while the number of zero emission trucks has almost trebled since last year — although they still account for fewer than one in 600 in use at the end of December 2022. For electric vans, this strong growth has continued into 2023 with deliveries of battery-electric vans 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.
One the leaders in the electric van space is SAIC with its Maxus brand. SAIC has just launched the eDeliver 7 in the UK and orders for this van open in July. The eDeliver 7 is positioned right in between the eDeliver 3 and the eDeliver 9, and this should be a popular van which will help boost electric van sales even further.
The UK’s electric bus sector should also see some significant gains going forward with exciting new developments, such as the recent announcement by Alexander Dennis to convert its current Larbert headquarters located in Scotland into a future manufacturing plant. From August of 2023, the Larbert site will concentrate on producing the new Enviro400EV zero-emission bus, putting the newest body on the most recent battery-electric Alexander Dennis chassis.
The SMMT says “the UK’s bus and coach fleet, however, has fallen again, by -2.3% to 72,766 vehicles — the lowest since records began, with 16,608 going out of service over the last decade. More than one in four buses have been in use for more than 15 years, demonstrating the need for support to encourage operators to invest in the latest zero-emission buses given the essential role these vehicles play in providing mobility for millions of people and in road transport decarbonisation.” It would be great to get the size of the UK’s bus fleet back to its higher levels as in the past by adding new electric buses on top of replacing the aging fleet of diesel buses that have been in use for more than 15 years.
There are more exciting developments in the heavy electric truck segment too, a sector that is very much under-served, as shown by the numbers from the SMMT that show fewer than one in 600 in use as at the end of December 2022. Recently, Renault Trucks UK and partners have been working on solutions to electrify this important segment. The UK’s first all-electric ready-mix concrete mixer has successfully completed a three-month trial of commercial deliveries across Birmingham for Tarmac, marking a significant step on the path to net zero construction.
The SMMT also says “public chargepoint rollout continues to lag behind EV uptake, with one standard public charger for every 36 plug-in cars on the road, down from 31 in 2021. The need for investment is even more intense for other road transport sectors, however, as these existing chargepoints may not be suitably located or sized to serve van operators, and there are no dedicated HGV charging points on the UK’s strategic road network at all. Deployment of infrastructure appropriate for commercial vehicles would energise uptake of the latest electric vehicles, accelerate fleet renewal to take older units off the road, and help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.”
Several companies are scaling up the rollout of charge points in the UK, and this should help address the situation in future. As the fleet of electric heavy goods vehicle grows, there needs to be more dedicated charge points for these heavy vehicles, as stated by the SMMT.
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