Registrations of rigid trucks fell by 6.7%, driven by a double-digit fall in the 6- to 16-tonne segment and a smaller (3.8%) drop in demand for trucks over 16 tonnes.
In 2018, tractors remained by far the most popular segment, taking 44.5% of the market, with demand staying broadly stable year on year. Box vans ended the year down by almost 17%, while tippers, skiploaders and flat lorries bucked the trend, with all seeing growth.
Meanwhile, sales of buses and coaches also fell in 2018, by 5.6%, with 7,236 new vehicles registered. The sector had its eighth quarterly fall in Q4, down by 5.6% on the same period in 2017.
SMMT figures revealed a steep decline in demand for double-deckers in Q4 (down by 34%), although the quarterly figure was propped up by minibus and single-decker sales (1% and 14% respectively). Minibuses were the top performer in 2018 in this segment, seeing a rise of 5%.
Both the HGV and PSV annual falls are cause for significant concern, according to Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. On HGV figures, he pointed to political and economic uncertainty exacerbated by the UK’s departure from the EU; on buses and coaches, he added that “confusion surrounding a patchwork of differing clean air zones” is also having a negative impact.