This week saw the latest quarterly heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and bus and coach registration figures released by SMMT. While there was an unsurprising increase in registrations for these vehicles over the past quarter when compared with the same period last year, these figures must be viewed in context against pre-pandemic levels.
HGVs, which saw their numbers increase by 128.7% in the second quarter of 2021 with almost 9,500 new units sold, still saw registrations fall by -20.1% compared to the five-year pre-Covid average, as the nationwide lockdown and business uncertainty continued to discourage investment in new equipment.
The sector now 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.
This will be just one of the topics up for discussion at the Commercial Vehicle Show which is being held at the NEC, Birmingham, between 31 August and 2 September 2021. The show, which is the largest and most comprehensive road freight transport, distribution and logistics event in Britain, brings together industry visitors from across the country. For CV Show enquiries, including exhibition, please call +44(0) 20 7630 2102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further event information can be found here.
Elsewhere, the bus and coach sector is still experiencing the effects of the pandemic with passenger numbers remaining low, undermining operator willingness to place new orders, despite the number of new units entering UK roads increasing by 231.1% in the last quarter.
The government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy is yet to deliver the promised investment which is essential to the future of this sector. Almost two years ago the government pledged to invest in 4,000 new zero emission buses. Manufacturers are ready, willing and able to provide these vehicles, most of which can be built here in the UK. For that to happen, however, we need to see that Government funding flow through to operators, orders placed and a return to the ridership numbers seen prior to the pandemic.