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SMMT records decline in new HGV registrations as coach and bus market slumps further

  • UK HGV market declines by 8.4 per cent in the third quarter, with 7,715 vehicles registered
  • 7,272 trucks registered in the first three quarters of the year, down 24.3 per cent on pre-pandemic 2019
  • Just 853 buses and coaches registered in Q3 2021, 37 per cent short of 2019 outturn

Time 6 days ago

Registrations of new heavy goods vehicles declined by close to eight-and-a-half per cent in the third quarter of 2021, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said.

Data collected by the trade body found that registrations fell by 8.4 per cent in Q3 to 7,715 trucks.

That equated to 704 fewer trucks than the same period in 2020, which itself was volatile due to the effects of the pandemic.


The latest figure was also a 9.8 per cent decrease on a particularly weak pre-pandemic total in 2019, which saw orders pulled forward into Q2 ahead of the introduction of new smart tachograph regulations.

Despite the decline in Q3, performance for the year to date was still 25.3 per cent higher than the pandemic-impacted 2020.

Overall 27,272 HGVs have been registered in 2021, although that is still 24.3 per cent – or 8,749 trucks- down on 2019’s figures.

Most segments saw their volumes decrease in Q3 compared to the same period in 2020, with articulated trucks falling by 13.4 per cent and rigids by a more modest five per cent.


Tractors, which remain the most popular vehicle body type with 37.3 per cent of the market, declined by 11.8 per cent, the SMMT found.

On more positive note, dropside lorries and tippers segments saw growth, up by 20.4 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, ‘With operators still struggling with acute driver shortages, and global shortages of semiconductors restricting production, it is disappointing, yet unsurprising, to see the number of registrations fall in the third quarter.

‘The sector is also facing significant long-term challenges, with government confirming its ambition to end the sale of all non-zero emission HGVs by 2040.

‘Manufacturers are investing billions into the latest, green technologies, but there is no single technological solution that can meet every HGV use case.

‘Indeed, there may be some specific and limited instances in which electrified technologies are not yet feasible, so flexibility for the future is important.

‘Above all else, however, the industry needs dedicated HGV infrastructure, a plan for which we still await.’


New coach and bus market falls by close to 20 per cent

Elsewhere, the SMMT has also revealed that the UK new bus and coach market fell by 19.8 per cent in the third quarter.

Single-deck buses were the only vehicle type that saw growth, increasing by 5.2 per cent, whilst double-deck buses declined significantly, by 63.6 per cent, to just 76 new registrations.

The number of new buses and coaches registered in Q3 remains 37 per cent down on the pre-pandemic 2019, with long-term low passenger numbers continuing to impact demand for vehicles.

Year to date, registrations remain 10.2 per cent down against a pandemic ravaged 2020, with just 2,584 new buses and coaches registered so far this year, down 293 units.

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Mike Hawes, added: ‘The decline in bus and coach figures during the third quarter of the year is incredibly disappointing, especially when viewed against the same period in 2020, when the country was still struggling to recover from the effects of pandemic induced lockdowns.

‘Whilst lockdowns have ended, and workers have begun returning to the office as the economy continues to be fully open, the sector is still struggling, with dwindling passenger numbers leading to operators hesitant to place new orders.

‘This sector also continues to wait for the promised investment from the government for new zero emission buses to flow through, with such funding necessary to stimulate confidence and deliver environmental goals.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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