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Supply shortages and new EV registrations - 2022 was a big year for US commercial vehicles
As 2022 played out we learned that the supply shortage was far more complex than microchips, and the shortages continued to wreak havoc on new vehicle registrations. Even though fleets struggled to replace vehicles at pre-pandemic rates, we started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Overall in the United States, there were 1.85 million new commercial registrations (GVW 1-8) in 2022 which was a 4% increase from 2021. Vehicles in operation continued to climb to 30.1 million commercial vehicles on the road in 2022. Since buy cycles have been delayed we are still seeing the average age rise 4% with the average commercial vehicle age at 17 years old.
While the overall story of the last three years has been one of challenges, the real eye-opener of 2022 was the dawn of the electric commercial vehicle. The year 2022 saw 41,784 electric vehicles registered to fleets (GVW 1-8) which was a 147% rise from 2021. Moreover, EVs are starting to find their niche in cargo vans, pick-ups, and buses. All three of these vehicle types have daily repeatable routes where the vehicle can return to the hub at the end of the night, receive a full charge and repeat that route the next day. Ford, Rivian, and Brightdrop controlled the EV market for new cargo van registrations. Most of those cargo vans were registered to freight, leasing, and service companies. Amazon, Walmart, and FedEx were some of the bigger fleets registering these vehicles. Fleets registering commercial pickups also took off in 2022. The Ford Lightning and Rivian R1T captured a majority of that market with those vehicles being registered to construction and lease/rental fleets. The current year 2023 expects to be promising as EVs continue to gain steam in the commercial and fleet market.
In the balance of the current year, uncertainties remain in the economic outlook, and recession in the United States still cannot be ruled out. A particular concern that could impact truck demand is the potential combination of a slowdown in investment spending, as interest rates rise, and a possible slowdown in manufacturing and transportation, as companies react to inventory buildup in pockets across the economy. Still, S&P Global Mobility expects improvements in vehicle selling rates during the year, with pent up demand and better vehicle availability playing a key supporting role. Overall, new registrations of Class 1-8 commercial vehicles are expected to rise by as much as 10% y/y in the full year, based on the latest published light vehicle forecast figures and an interim update of S&P Global Mobility's Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle Forecast for North America. New registrations of Class 4-8 medium- and heavy-duty trucks alone are expected to see a rise of only about half of this overall rate, amid divergent dynamics in individual weight classes. Upside opportunity exists, particularly in the second half of the year. Beneath the surface, the uptake of zero-emission (ZEV) trucks in the medium- and heavy-commercial vehicle market is lagging that in the light-commercial market. Nonetheless, there is a tailwind, and 2023 is expected to be the first year to see first registrations of OEM-built ZEV trucks in the United States (excluding conversions) break the 1,000 unit barrier.
Note: All data reflects GVW 1-8.
This article was published by S&P Global Mobility and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.
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