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Commercial vehicle manufacturing up by more than a sixth in March


As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the UK last spring, the automotive industry was severely impacted, with production of new commercial vehicles paused for several months.

One year on, recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 6,166 commercial vehicles were manufactured in March, up 16.9% compared to a year ago.

FIRST MONTH OF GROWTH SINCE THE AUTUMN

Commercial vehicle manufacturing saw its first month of growth since September 2020, marking the first anniversary since the coronavirus pandemic first caused plant closures in mid-March 2020. The comparison with pre-pandemic levels is less flattering, however. March output remains almost a third down (32.2%) on the five-year average for the month.

DOMESTIC MARKET RISES FASTER THAN OVERSEAS

While production for both domestic and overseas markets saw an increase, the domestic market saw a greater growth, as manufacturers adjust to new EU trading arrangements and grapple with renewed lockdown restrictions worldwide. Commercial vehicles destined for abroad experienced a slower recovery, up 3.2% compared to 34.7% for the UK market.

RED TAPE TAKES ITS TOLL ON EU MARKET

The added administrative burden of the new UK-EU trading arrangements with the EU took their toll on exports, amounting to less than half of all commercial vehicles built in the month for the first time since June 2020. The first quarter has seen performance fall by almost a quarter (24.7%) to 16,090 units, with some 5,264 fewer vehicles manufactured compared to this time last year.

EMERGENCE OF GREEN SHOOTS

“One year since the coronavirus pandemic first caused a nationwide lockdown, we are starting to see signs of recovery,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, “with growth in commercial vehicle production for the first time in six months being very welcome. March 2021 was always going to be up, as last year’s output was hit so badly by shuttered factories. While manufacturers are working hard to make up for production lost last year, getting back to pre-pandemic levels will take time as many LCV key export markets have new lockdown restrictions in place.”

FLEET RENEWAL VITAL TO ENSURE GROWTH

“Fleet renewal remains crucial to returning the CV sector to growth, especially as manufacturers are investing heavily in zero emission capable technologies that support operator and driver needs,” Hawes continued. “The pace of this transformation can also ensure the UK remains an attractive and globally competitive destination for commercial vehicle manufacturing.”

*www.smmt.co.uk/category/news/manufacturing/

Published On: 06/05/2021 17:00:16

 



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