The number of commercial vehicles on UK roads hit a new record high last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The industry body’s newly-released Motorparc data for 2023 shows that 5,012,632 vans were in operation, up by 2.6% compared with the previous year.

This included a 43.5% rise in the number of electric vans, with these now making up 1.2% of the overall van fleet.

The overall number of vehicles on UK roads also rose last year, by 1.7% to over 41.4 million, another record high.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After two challenging years of constrained supply, more people and businesses across the UK are now getting back behind the wheel – and increasingly, opting for greener options. 

“However, given the ageing fleet, we now need to encourage consumers and businesses who have deferred purchases of new cars, vans, trucks and buses to upgrade. A stronger and stable economy, coupled with reduced living costs, would boost consumer and business confidence, while compelling fiscal incentives would ensure that these purchases are emissions free. 

“Not only would this accelerate the transition – fundamental to the UK’s net zero ambitions – but it would also stimulate the economy and enhance the wider environment in which we all live.”