UK truck registrations increased 93% during the final quarter of last year, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Registrations rose 32% in October, 39% in November and 217% in December, with 11,351 trucks registered—the highest month for more than 20 years.
Heavy trucks registered from January this year have had to comply with the new Euro-6 exhaust emission rules, which can add up to $32,600 to the price of a 6×2 tractor unit. Any of the less-expensive Euro-5 trucks built after October 1, 2013, had to be registered by the end of last year: hence the huge statistical spikes.
Overall, the truck market grew strongly in 2013, hitting 56,218 registrations and increasing 23% on 2012′s performance.
“Indeed, the total commercial vehicle market, including vans, rose 14.7%, making it the best performance in the last five years,” says SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes.
Recent analysis produced by Iveco, and based on SMMT figures, reveals that some sectors of the truck industry rocketed ahead.
Registrations of four-axle rigids typically used as platforms for tippers jumped by a whopping 58.3%, suggesting that the construction industry is well on the road to recovery. Sales of all multi-axle rigids soared 39.6%, while tractor units – a key market – rose 32% with Mercedes-Benz, Scania and DAF at numbers one, two and three in this particular pecking order.
In light commercials, registrations increased by 13.1%, to 271,073, with Ford, Volkswagen (which put in an especially-impressive performance) and Vauxhall taking the number one, two, and three slots, with a familiar gap between market leading Ford and its closest rivals.
Even though 3.5-tonne registration growth was only modest, it remains a healthy sector with more than 67,000 sold. Of these, more than 6,500 were bodied as tippers and almost 4,400 as dropsides, says the SMMT.
Maybe, too, some prospective 3.5-tonne purchasers are hanging on until the new, big-capacity Ford Transit goes on sale later this year.
The big Transit will not be the only light commercial newcomer in 2014, with Ford’s Courier – a rival for the compact Peugeot Bipper and Citroen Nemo among others – and Vauxhall’s latest Vivaro set to be among the new models vying for attention.
Despite all of the publicity they have received, electric light commercials have yet to take off.
There are now more than 1,000 on UK roads, but the full potential of back-to-base driving – the ability to set off from your depot, do a day’s work then go back to the depot and recharge the batteries ready for the following day – has yet to be realized, says the SMMT.
Overall, 2014 is expected to be a good year for the light end of the market with SMMT forecasting a 4% rise in van volumes. Despite total truck volumes expected to be down on 2013 due to a quieter first half of 2014, the market is expected to stabilize during the third and fourth quarters.