Last reviewed 13 June 2022

Now accounting for more than one in eight vehicles in service, vans, trucks, buses and coaches have reached the highest-ever proportion of vehicles on the road.

According to the latest annual Motorparc data, published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), some 5,483,319 vans, trucks, buses and coaches were recorded in operation at the end of 2021, a 4.1% increase on the previous year.

Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) numbers returned to growth after last year’s fall, increasing 2.5% to 604,035 units. This was driven by significant growth in new registrations (up by 12.9%), but also retention of units already in service.

Bus numbers have been in decline since 2012, including a sharp fall in 2020, which saw around one in 10 taken off the road as ridership was impacted by the pandemic. While there was marginal growth (1.1%) for the first time in a decade in 2021, the total number remains -9.7% below its pre-pandemic level.

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Commercial vehicles keep Britain’s economy on the move, and their growing proportion of the national fleet underscores their increasing importance. Nurturing the green shoots of the sector’s transition to electrification, however, will need a dedicated strategy.”

Although electric vehicle use reached a record high, it still accounts for just one in 180 vans and one in 2000 HGVs, compared with around one in 50 in the car sector.

The SMMT believes that the recently announced government demonstration programme of zero-emission truck use has the potential to give operators greater confidence to invest in the latest technology.