Production of commercial vehicles (CV) dropped almost 25% in the first six months of the year to end-June, latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures show.
The first six months of 2020 saw total output decline by 24.8%, on the same period in 2019 as COVID-19-enforced lockdown of global markets forced factories to be closed.
First half production for the home market decreased by 23.3%, while exports fell 26.0%, with just 14,613 units shipped overseas. Exports accounted for 55.3% of all UK CV manufacturing – with the majority heading for the EU.
However, June marked a rise in production in the UK, with an increase of 23.9%, with 4,144 vans, trucks and buses built. The increase is notable in that June 2019 was also lower than normal due to model changeovers and consequently does not paint a true picture of the state of affairs when compared on a month-by-month basis.
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. The Government urgently needs to assist this critical sector by building operator confidence domestically and by ensuring competitive conditions are in place to drive long term growth and safeguard jobs. That must start with securing an ambitious and truly tariff-free EU-UK FTA – and quickly.”
A similar message was noted for UK car output, which expectedly also saw a dramatic drop in production in the first six months of the year caused by lockdown and factory closures.