January Headlines

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It’s January, which means that we’ve now got a full year of registration statistics to analyse giving us a decent illustration of the health of the UK’s van market and, of particular interest to us, how electric vans have performed in comparison to their ICE counterparts. But, December is a crucial month which can be full of devious tactics and it’s worth a detailed look at in isolation.

December headline figures first then. The total van market was up a massive 36.1% compared to the same month in 2022, and drilling down into the stats all of the sectors with the exception of heavier LCV’s were up between 85% and 136%. A superb performance, and over the full year, there’s been an overall growth of 21%.

Given that I thought manufacturers would hold back on electric van registrations in December so that they counted towards their 2024 ZEV mandate target, I was very pleasantly surprised to see December numbers up by 73.8% compared to 2022 giving a market share of exactly 10%, the figure everyone will be aiming for in 2024. Before we get too excited, as I’ve said previously two swallows don’t make a summer and although actual numbers are up 21% over the year, the 5.9% market share shows zero growth from the previous year.

In last month’s newsletter, I talked about the SMMT’s full year forecast of 21,000 electric van registrations together with my thoughts, and I quote myself ‘I’m going to stick with my forecast of 20,000 (or a little less) BEV van registrations for 2023’. It turns out that I wasn’t too far off the mark, the year ending at 20,253 units. Where has this last minute, perhaps unexpected surge of numbers come from? I’ve heard that electric vans formed a higher proportion of pre-registration activity than most expected, and one manufacturer in particular had a well publicised campaign offering a vehicle at an extremely competitive lease rate. However you look at it though, December was a good month for the electric van market.

A quick look at manufacturer activity and Maxus had a storming month taking 34% of the electric LCV market registering 994 vehicles and registering as TOP DOG in the month for the first time. Compare that to November when the figures were 5% and 83 units. Next up, Vauxhall with a 20% share, but the important statistic is that 18% of Vauxhall’s registrations were electric, standing the company in very good shape for 2024 and the ZEV mandate requirement of 10%. Nissan takes the bronze trophy with 10% of the BEV market, but a whopping 45% of their total LCV sales being battery powered. It’s always worth mentioning Ford, which despite selling 7837 vans in December only registered 38 electric ones. That’s disappointing from the otherwise market leader. Granted that there is plenty of electric product just around the corner but, the very capable E-Transit has been with us for a couple of years now, and for Ford’s fleet sales and dealer operations to sell on average just over one van per day? Waiting for 2024? I wonder…

So, where do we go from here? What do we need to do to get that EV market share to budge from the 5.9%, and to achieve 10% by this time next year? It’s a tall order, that’s for sure and I think that everyone, be it manufacturers, dealers, industry bodies, the government, those involved in planning infrastructure, you name it, all need to pull together in a single, cohesive direction. Mindsets need to be changed. Yes, an electric van won’t right now work for all operators but there’s no doubt that pre-conceptions are holding some back. Let’s get the dealers trained properly (I think there’s a black hole here right now) and get bums on seats. Those of us that use electric vans know how refined and easy to drive they are but it needs to be experienced by the naysayers. Let’s do this!

For my TOP 10 countdown check here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L25qNiEonf4