UK production of commercial vehicles was up 3.6% in July, but the slight increase is tinged by concerns over a no-deal Brexit and overall economic uncertainty.
A total of 5,234 commercial vehicles rolled off production lines last month, compared to 5,054 in July 2019. However, the latter month was marked out a particularly low-volume July; the result of key model changeovers affecting factory output, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It’s not the first month that CV production has risen since the start of the pandemic; June actually saw an impressive 23.9% increase but this was again the result of a low base of comparison in June 2019, again due to model changes. In contrast, production was down 61.6% in May.
July’s increase was driven by both domestic and export demand, but the rises of 2.1% and 4.8% respectively show the importance of exports – they accounted for 53.4% of all units produced last month.
And with year-to-date output down 21.2%, equating to a 8,529-unit loss in the first seven months, the SMMT said the uncertainty is far from over.
Chief executive Mike Hawes commented: “With many production lines running at reduced capacity due to ongoing social distancing measures and order books diminished as a result of depleted business confidence, the industry is still fighting an uphill battle to make up the lockdown loss of more than 8,500 vehicles.”
He also reiterated the need for a Brexit trade deal with the EU.
Hawes continued: “Already grappling with a pandemic and now a wider economic recession, the automotive industry simply cannot withstand the blow of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period. Protecting the relationship with our key trading partner is crucial for the recovery of our deeply integrated sector, particularly when the majority of CVs currently built in the UK are for the European market.”