We all know that 2021 was not a normal year for anything – especially not new truck sales. On the back of a terrible year in 2020 with the factory shutdowns and working practice changes needed to meet COVID 19 working rules, the truck makers then had to deal with shortages or components – particularly electronics.

Let’s not even mention Brexit.

So, it is little surprise that every truck maker did better in 2021 when compared to 2020 – the market was up nearly 13% on average – but more interesting is the comparison to 2019.

Growth in key industry sectors such as construction saw demand outstrip supply, with truck registrations surging from a locked-down 2020 fall of -32.2%. However, the global semiconductor shortage, as well as supply constraints affecting steel and aluminium, impacted availability, resulting in 7,571 fewer (-16.9%) HGV units registered compared with the pre-pandemic average.

Used Volvo Trucks Lineup

What’s the Best-Selling Truck Type in 2021?

Whilst all truck types performed better than in 2020, it was the heavy rigid trucks that did the most catching up – undoubtedly fuelled by the multi-axle construction trucks – 8 wheel tippers and hookloaders, for example. Registrations of rigid trucks above 16 tonnes GVW were 16.3% higher than 2020 and only down by about 15-20% on 2018 and 2019 figures.

Check out this chart to see just how well tippers performed in 2021 compared to the other top body types – a massive 33% higher:

BodyYTDYTD 2020% Change
 
TRACTOR156791351616%
BOX VAN40544102-1%
TIPPER3808287333%
CURTAIN SIDED24522616-6%
REFUSE DISPOSAL206720272%
371633291813%

Lighter rigids performed less well – but this is a market segment that has been shrinking over many years. This lightweight truck segment grew by only 4.6% last year – this looks bad, but comparing the registrations to 2018 and 2019, last year’s figures were just 900 registrations behind 2018.

Finally, tractor units performed well against 2020, but there is still a long way to go to reach the levels of registrations enjoyed prior to the pandemic and semiconductor shortages.

2021 Truck Registrations by Type
2021 vs 2020 UK Truck Registrations by Type

Which Part of the UK Bought the Most Trucks in 2021?

In terms of UK nations, the majority of registrations were recorded in England (87.8%), followed by Scotland (6.9%), Wales (3.0%) and Northern Ireland (2.2%). Regionally, most registrations were made in South East England (23.2%), North West (12%), West Midlands (12%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (11.9%).

The best performing region compared to previous years was East Anglia with the major volume growth coming from the South East (which underperformed in the last quarter, however).

RegionsQ4Q4 2020% ChangeYTDYTD 2020% Change
SOUTH EAST21192537-16%8636722220%
NORTH WEST1474127216%446942864%
WEST MIDLANDS13201605-18%447641697%
YORKS/HUMBERSIDE11501315-13%441642723%
EAST MIDLANDS11071336-17%3702317816%
EAST ANGLIA68258517%2240163837%
SOUTH WEST656887-26%3356283318%
SCOTLAND613808-24%257624406%
NORTHERN3843782%1480131812%
WALES2091938%96475128%
NORTHERN IRELAND175232-25%8327965%
CHANNEL ISLANDS23-33%69-33%
ISLE OF MAN04-100%10667%
Total989111155-11%371633291813%

The Best Selling Truck Brands 2021

As ever, DAF dominated the top of the charts, maintaining a percentage share of over 30%, but it is Mercedes that appears to have suffered the most in the last three years – they were a strong second place in the market share table back in 2018, but slipped into third place in 2019 and down to fourth place in 2020 and 2021, albeit with a growth rate that matched the market average.

The most impressive performances came from the players towards the bottom of the table – Iveco and Renault Trucks. the COVID years appear to have been good to Iveco in particular. Their registrations in 2021 were higher than in both 2018 and 2019 as well as being up nearly 40% on 2020 figures, whilst Renault Trucks’ registrations almost reached their 2019 levels last year.

MarqueYTD% Market ShareYTD 2020% Market Share% Change
DAF TRUCKS1154731%1054532%10%
SCANIA526614%481115%9%
VOLVO500013%415713%20%
MERCEDES423711%375611%13%
MAN34809%340810%2%
IVECO32309%23427%38%
RENAULT TRUCKS21956%17695%24%
DENNIS EAGLE9493%9053%5%
ISUZU8622%8383%3%
FUSO3961%3861%3%
Total37163100%32918100%13%

Since the competition enquiry into the truck industry, it has been increasingly difficult to obtain detailed data on the individual models, weight ranges and their respective performances in the new truck market.

Regarding the best selling trucks in the UK, across almost every category and body type it is likely that DAF is a strong contender. The Swedes always perform well in the tractor unit and tipper markets whilst Iveco historically has been stronger in distribution than construction or tractor units.

The Future – Alternative Fuels for Trucks

The UK has yet to feel the impact of the introduction of alternatively fuelled trucks with just 0.2% or the truck motor parc being alternatively fuelled. The pace of change will have to increase, however we may see more inroads made by Iveco into the long-distance tractor unit market, as they have stolen a march on gas-fuelled trucks, the only currently viable alternative to diesel in the tractor unit market. Other manufacturers have gas trucks on offer, but Iveco have specialised in this area for some time and may be about to reap some benefit.