The market for new buses, coaches, and minibuses in the UK witnessed remarkable growth in the third quarter of 2023, with registrations of 1,739 vehicles, marking a staggering increase of 130.6%. This surge in demand can be attributed to the recovery of passenger levels, which have now returned to pre-pandemic levels. As a result, confidence has been instilled in the UK road transport industry, encouraging the replacement of older vehicles with newer models. The period from July to September 2023 experienced the highest demand in any quarter since the end of 2019, with an increased number of advanced, eco-friendly models taking to the roads across towns and cities in Britain.
The phenomenal growth in registrations was primarily driven by a rise in minibus deliveries, which soared by 156.3% to 1,074 units, accounting for 61.8% of the market. The demand for single deckers also witnessed an impressive increase of 46.3% to 338 units, while double deckers skyrocketed by 214.4% to 327 units. These statistics highlight the registration of a total of 3,836 new units in 2023, making it the highest demand recorded from January to September in the past four years.
Despite the positive outlook of returning to pre-pandemic ridership levels, the demand for new vehicles in 2023 is still 43.1% below its peak in 2016. However, the ongoing upward trajectory of the sector, combined with significant investments from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to transition towards net-zero emissions, positions the industry to take advantage of the potential of mass green mobility. This includes benefits such as an improved experience for passengers and drivers, better local air quality, more frequent services, and reduced noise pollution. However, realizing these opportunities depends on increased vehicle adoption and the development of charging infrastructure at depots, which often require substantial investment and improvements in grid connectivity.
Moreover, there is a need to ensure that all regions across the UK have access to the latest, greenest buses and coaches. In the initial round of the Zero Emission Regional Bus Area (ZEBRA) funding, only 17 out of 48 regions in England received support. The launch of the second round presents another opportunity to drive the transition to green fleets. Efforts must be made to simplify and streamline the application process to avoid regions that are eager to decarbonize from missing out on this chance. Additionally, timely allocation of funding to successful bidders will enable regions to swiftly deliver affordable and widely accessible zero-emission mobility in towns and cities.
What is the growth rate of the UK’s new bus, coach, and minibus market in Q3 2023?
The market witnessed a growth rate of 130.6% in Q3 2023.
Which vehicle type drove the growth in registrations?
The growth in registrations was primarily driven by minibuses, which saw a significant increase of 156.3%.
What are the benefits of increased vehicle uptake and the installation of depot charging infrastructure?
Increased vehicle uptake and the development of depot charging infrastructure can lead to improved passenger and driver experiences, better local air quality, more regular services, and reduced noise pollution.
How many regions in England received Zero Emission Regional Bus Area (ZEBRA) funding in the first round?
Out of 48 regions in England, only 17 received ZEBRA funding in the first round.
What are the challenges that need to be addressed in the second round of ZEBRA funding?
Efforts must be made to simplify the application process and ensure timely allocation of funding to regions ready to decarbonize. This will help drive the UK’s ambitious rollout targets for the latest, greenest buses.