Full impact of Covid-19 on truck sales confirmed

Colin Barnett
February 18, 2021

The full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on UK HGV registrations have become apparent with publication of the full SMMT figures for 2020.

The headline figure is that registrations for all trucks above 6.0 tonnes dropped from 48,535 in 2019 to 32,918, a fall of 32.2%. A pre-Christmas resurgence saw the Q4 market down by 10.9%, but this wasn’t enough to counter the 73.4% plummet in Q2.

The only black in a sea of red figures was for rigids above 16 tonnes, which actually increased by 3.4% in Q4 compared with same period in 2019.

The biggest hit over the full year was for tractors, with a drop of 8,266 to 13,926 units, 6x2s seeing almost twice the rate of fall than 4x2s. With almost all body types seeing a fall, the only exception was curtain-siders, which actually saw a slight increase over the year. Overall, DAF Trucks maintained its market leadership, with a record 32%.

Increasing clarity over the effects of Brexit and the roll-out of vaccination provides some hope of a market recovery in 2021.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, said, “From September, truck utilisation began to exceed pre-pandemic levels – but registrations continued to fall. Operators have been sweating their existing assets given the ongoing uncertainty from lockdown, and an underlying structural decline in the market given many would have renewed their fleet in 2019. Following such a tumultuous year, where the industry has acquitted itself well under the circumstances, it is vital that operators can have confidence restored so they can invest in the latest low-emission vehicles, helping the country to deliver on its green goals while ensuring the economy, and society, continues to move.”

About the Author


Colin Barnett

Colin Barnett has been involved in the road transport industry since becoming an apprentice truck mechanic and worked on Commercial Motor for 27 years

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