Getty electric bus

Electric and hydrogen registrations are up for both trucks and buses according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said that buses were at the vanguard of Britain’s net zero journey, with electric or hydrogen vehicles accounting for 45.1% of new single and double-decker bus registrations – almost treble the new car market share. And with 1,159 ZEV buses of all types entering service last year, the UK is Europe’s biggest ZEV bus market by volume.

Uptake has been supported by Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding, originally awarded in 2022, with finance trickling through during last year. With 58 expressions of interest filed for the second round of funding at the end of 2023, the SMMT said ensuring rapid approval and allocation of cash will be essential to help more regions roll out affordable, zero emission mass mobility more quickly, especially as any new funding needs to be invested by January 2025.

Meanwhile, SMMT figures revealed that electric and hydrogen registrations for trucks were up more than threefold in 2023 – by 265.6% to 234 units. While this is progress, these vehicles account for just 0.5% of the market and the trade body says the clock is ticking with the end of sale of new, non-zero emission trucks under 26 tonnes coming in 2035.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said operators need certainty that making the switch will be commercially viable against tight margins. “Two years of growing demand for the very latest, fuel efficient trucks amid testing times reflects these vehicles’ importance to the British economy – and with some HGVs facing the same 2035 end of sale date as cars and vans, the sector is also critical to our green goals. Increasing availability of electric and hydrogen models – and record demand for them – is encouraging market growth but operators need cast-iron confidence to switch. More than ever, government must compel truck infrastructure rollout and provide a signal that the time to invest is now.”

Overall, UK’s new truck market grew for the second consecutive year, up 13.5% to 46,227 units in 2023 – the best performance since 2019.

Speaking about the bus sector, Hawes added: “Zero emission buses are on the verge of becoming the mainstay of what is now Europe’s biggest ZEV market but we need the next round of funding – fast – to put even more on the road. Speeding up licence derogations could unleash demand in the minibus market, helping provide zero emission mass mobility for all with the air quality, carbon emission and wider economic benefits that come with this transition.”