Commercial vehicle output increases for fifth consecutive month

Commercial vehicle production grew for the fifth month in a row, but overall numbers are still significantly below the five-year pre-COVID average, according to new figures.

In all, 5,625 units rolled off production lines in July, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Production was up by 7.5% compared to the same month in 2020, but it that was when production lines were running at a reduced capacity due to social distancing measures and dwindling order numbers due to low business confidence due to the pandemic.

In addition, production over the year-to-date remains 21.3% below the average for the five years pre-COVID, with supply shortages of semi-conductor chips and an increase in the numbers of workers who have been required to self-isolate impacting volumes.

However, production for overseas markets increased by 16.2% during the month, raising the export share by almost 5% to 60% of all CVs bound for international shores. Nevertheless, over the course of the year export share has decreased to 49.7% from 55.1% in 2020 as demand from home has outpaced that from abroad.

“The commercial vehicle sector is continuing its steady recovery having recorded another month of consecutive growth in July,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “While the number of workers required to self-isolate should begin to lessen with rule changes from 16 August, significant headwinds remain surrounding the shortage of semiconductors.

“As manufacturers continue to invest heavily in new zero emission capabilities that support operator and driver needs, the pace of this transformation will help to ensure that the UK solidifies its status as an attractive and competitive destination for commercial vehicle manufacturing.”

Elsewhere, UK factories made 127,922 engines in July, a decline of 27.5% over the same month in 2020.

The fall in output was artificially heightened by comparison to last year when engine production was recovering volumes lost due to the pandemic.

Over the year-to-date engine manufacturing has increased by 6.8% to 1,058,792 units but remains -31.6% lower than the five-year average.

“The decline in engine production in July must be looked at in context against the same month in 2020, which saw production artificially inflated as the sector looked to recover lost units due to the pandemic,” said Hawes. “It is unsurprising that the number of engines produced so far this year remains below the five-year average with the global shortage of semiconductors continuing to impact the ability of manufacturers to produce vehicles, leading to a fall in demand for engines. Government must show its support for UK automotive by introducing measures to support production during these COVID-related stoppages and boost industry competitiveness.”

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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