UK commercial vehicle (CV) production was reduced by 61.6% in May, with only 810 vehicles leaving factory gates, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Many plants remained closed in the month, while others resumed operations at a reduced capacity. The fall in output follows a particularly weak May 2019, which saw a 69.9% decline due to key model changeovers.
As some production resumed, 43.3% of commercial vehicles built were for export in May, with more than two thirds (68.7%) exported to the EU, following the gradual re-opening of showrooms in some European markets. The figures reflect those of the car industry that had similarly large declines in both output and sales.
A recent SMMT member survey confirms the continued importance of government support measures such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, with a third (33%) of automotive employees still on furlough. As the CV sector approaches restart, however, there are significant concerns over cash flow and liquidity, with 70% of automotive businesses experiencing challenges in this area. As the furlough scheme tapers to an end in November, the survey reveals that up to one in six jobs are at risk of redundancy.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “With many plants still shut and those open operating at reduced capacity, these figures illustrate the need for urgent support to drive a successful restart. Measures to drive demand, boost liquidity and facilitate short-time working as production ramps up are essential for light and heavy commercial vehicle makers as well as the struggling bus sector. Restoring operator confidence is key to fleet renewal and thus ambitions for a green recovery.”