TNB News

Looking back to the future

21 December 2023 #TNB News

As we head to the festive period and draw a close to 2023, it’s worth looking back at highlights from the past year for the commercial vehicle and bus and coach industries.

Firstly, technology has continued to advance – notably with automated vehicles. In May, the first automated vehicle on a scheduled bus route started carrying passengers over the Forth Bridge in May. This 14-mile route, called CAVForth, will be a showcase for the most advanced autonomous public transport pilot anywhere in the world. One day we will look back and say “this is where it started”.

Regulation has continued to play its part and following a number of our members highlighting delays in receiving VTG Plates for Trailers through the post, we engaged with DVSA on making these available in electronic form for trailer manufacturers to print themselves – speeding up the whole process.

Just a week after the end of sale date for internal combustion engine light commercial vehicles was pushed back to 2035, the government announced the Vehicle Emissions Trading Schemes Order, previously known as the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate. This was passed by the various GB devolved nations and gained Royal Ascent last week. From 3 January 2024, LCV manufacturers will be required to meet a minimum proportion of new zero emission van registrations, starting at 10% and rising up to 2030. SMMT has engaged with government and the legislation incorporates key flexibilities that recognise the diversity within the sector and its shared commitment to deliver.

Producing the vehicles will be a key party of that – and 2023 brought more good news on that front. The UK is now home to a dedicated zero emission light commercial vehicle facility in Ellesmere Port, and overall CV production this year is growing as supply chain issues resolve.

It was also a year of vital funding and delivery for other key classes of zero emission vehicles. In May, £58m was announced for Phase 2 of the Scottish Zero Emission Buses (ScotZEB); in September, £129m was announced for the second round of funding for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA2 which earmarked  £20m for rural routes; October brought £200m was announced for up to 370 zero emission HGVs through the Zero Emission Road Freight Demonstration Trial. This will boost the number of zero emission vehicles on the roads over the next few years. Keeping these vehicles on the move will also be crucial – with SMMT publishing its HGV infrastructure paper at the CV Show to demonstrate the investment needed.

Finally, this year also saw SMMT champion a new initiative of which I’m particularly proud. Our first Meet the Van Converter event took place in July, bringing together LCV manufacturers and van converters, providing an opportunity to form partnerships and generate business opportunities. This was a great use of our central London facility, and following positive feedback from attendees, we are already planning to repeat the event in July 2024.

I hope it’s been a year of highlights for you too, with even more to come in 2024. Therefore, as we wrap up 2023, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and a Prosperous New Year.

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