UK CV production falls by a quarter in October

Confidence fades over Covid-19 and Brexit fears

Commercial vehicle production in the UK fell by 26% year-on-year in October, as the overseas and domestic markets declined over fears about the post Covid-19 recovery and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that 6,761 units were manufactured. Output for the overseas and domestic markets declined by 21% and 30% respectively.

Manufacturers turned out 2,326 fewer buses, coaches, vans, trucks and taxis than in the same month in 2019, as output for the domestic market fell for the first time since May.

Performance in the year to date remains down, falling by 18% overall, with a shortfall of 11,256 units in the first ten months of the year. All told, just over 50,000 new commercial vehicles have been made in Britain this year. This is largely due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the UK in lockdown in the Spring and commercial vehicle purchases largely drying up.

The effects of Covid-19 are still clear to see in the bus sector. In October, only 76 buses were built in Britain, down 35%. The impact of social distancing continued to affect operator confidence, with bus production now down 53% in the year to date.

However, there was good news for bus manufacturers this week, as the government pledged to deliver the first 800 new zero emission buses by the end of this financial year, as part of the prime minister’s commitment in early 2020 to fund 4,000 of these vehicles.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said that the figures demonstrate the immense pressure the commercial vehicle sector is under. “During the pandemic the industry has stepped up, flexing to meet demand while, as always, putting safety first. CV output is decreasing, however, and orders at home and overseas are down as operators delay fleet renewal due to Covid pressures, exacerbated, in the UK at least, by Brexit uncertainty.

“Mass fleet electrification and economic recovery will only come if we can ensure the long-term competitiveness of UK automotive. This starts with a favourable Brexit deal, with zero tariffs and rules of origin that encompass not just existing products but the next generation of zero emission capable technologies.”

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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