UK commercial vehicle production down 45pc in February

Commercial vehicle production in the UK declined 45.4% year-on-year in February, with 4,308 units built, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It said commercial vehicle manufacturing entered its fifth consecutive month of decline, as supply chain shortages, new customs processes and prolonged lockdown measures affected output, resulting in the worst February on record. The SMMT said that as Covid-19 lockdown measures and social distancing in the UK suppressed domestic output by 36.8%, vehicles built for export saw a much sharper drop, down 51.3%, where parts shortages including semiconductors, combined with lockdowns and friction surrounding new trading arrangements with the European Union, drove the decline, given the majority of all shipments were headed for Europe.

Despite the challenges, it said exports still made up more than half of all commercial vehicles built in the UK, at 52.5%. For the year-to-date, commercial vehicle production was down 38.3%, with a shortfall of 6,155 vehicles compared to the same time time last year, with 9,924 vans, trucks and buses built in the first months of 2021. “A fifth consecutive month of decline for UK commercial vehicle production is grim news, but expected given the challenges the automotive sector is facing,” said chief executive of the SMMT, Mike Hawes.

“As the country reflects on a full year grappling with the pandemic, commercial vehicles have continued to provide a lifeline for myriad essential services and sectors, and with the UK coming out of lockdown soon, they will play a key role getting the country back up to speed.

“We now need to ensure these critical vehicles continue to be made in Britain, which means implementing measures to assure our global manufacturing competitiveness with investment in skills, training and a supportive business environment.”

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