UK is Europe’s biggest ZEV bus market by volume

zero emission bus

Registrations of new buses and coaches have rebounded positively after three challenging years, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In total, there were 4,932 new units registered in 2023, representing an increase of almost 45% on 2022 levels, as passenger confidence in road going public transport continued to return, although uptake, somewhat predictably, remains 16% below 2019 levels.

Strong investment in single and double-decker buses buoyed the market, with registrations up 53% and 174% respectively. Minibuses also recorded strong growth, rising 18% over the year, as fleets across the UK invested in new passenger transport assets.

Electric and hydrogen bus registrations saw continued growth, accounting for 45% of new single and double-decker vehicles entering service. According to the SMMT figures, this is almost treble the new car market share. With 1,159 ZEV buses of all types joining fleets last year, the UK is Europe’s biggest ZEV bus market by volume.

The uplift in the market has been supported by Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding, which was originally awarded in 2022. With 58 expressions of interest filed for the second round of funding at the end of 2023, the SMMT says ensuring rapid approval and allocation of cash will be essential to help more regions roll out affordable, zero-emission mass mobility more quickly. The extension of the Bus Fare Cap Grant has also helped the sector to stabilise amid improve passenger numbers.

Commenting on the release of the latest bus and coach statistics, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said:

“Britain’s bus sector is recovering strongly, powered by rising passenger numbers and government funding that is finally delivering new vehicles to routes up and down the country. Zero emission buses are on the verge of becoming the mainstay of what is now Europe’s biggest ZEV bus market but we need the next round of funding to put even more on the road.”

John Dwight, Sales Director of Imperial Engineering, which supports bus and coach operators across the UK with the supply of OE parts, commented:

“The continual uplift in registrations for buses and coaches is to be welcomed and demonstrates both the resilience and innovative outlook of the PSV sector. It’s very encouraging to see operators making investments in new vehicles, as well as upgrading legacy units during the transition to zero emission fleets. As a major distributor of OE and remanufactured parts for bus and coach operators of all sizes, Imperial Engineering continues to support customers in a challenging economic climate.”