UK commercial vehicle production down 25% in first half of 2020

The number of vans, trucks and buses produced in the UK fell by 25% in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year, as the coronavirus pandemic hit manufacturers hard, new figures have revealed.

But there is evidence that production levels are returning to normal, as commercial vehicle production was up by 24% year-on-year in June to 4,144 units, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). However, it should be noted that June 2019 was a notably weak month for production as output fell by more than half due to key model changeovers.

The coronavirus pandemic and forced lockdown that was imposed to control it and resulted in factories closing for some time, meant that total output was down 25%, with 26,421 units produced, compared to 35,130 last year.

Output was down in the first three months of the year too. By the end of March, 21,473 units had been produced, down 22% on Q1 of 2019. Lockdown around Europe had already started to affect production by then.

Exports, which account for 55% of all UK commercial vehicle manufacturing, was worst affected, with 14,613 units shipped overseas – the majority to the EU – a fall of 26%. The domestic market fared slightly better, being down 23%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Although growth in CV manufacturing in June is undoubtedly good news, this does not indicate a return to business as normal. The sector remains almost 9,000 units behind 2019, which will be difficult to catch back given many plants are still operating at a reduced capacity.”

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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