Happy New Year to everyone, and welcome to what promises to be another eventful year.
We start things off with some clarity over our new relationship with the EU, and while adjusting to the new trading environment will require some careful navigation, as ever, SMMT is here to help you through. Over the coming weeks, we will be holding a series of webinars to discuss and disseminate the details, and answer the many questions I’m sure you have. More details will follow soon.
Meanwhile, the full-year registration figures for the LCV market are now in, predictably showing a mixed picture after the year we’ve had. The market is down -20%, which, considering the wider economy and the challenges faced in 2020, is not a bad performance. Nonetheless, it demonstrates the impact of the pandemic on a sector that in a normal world should be on a growth path.
In brighter news, there’s new impetus for the bus and coach sector. The UK is home to leading bus manufacturers and, therefore, new, greener technologies paving the way for zero-emissions road passenger transport. This week’s news that Coventry and Oxford will be the country’s first all-electric bus towns is likely to push us even further ahead. If successful, each area could be awarded up to £50 million to replace up to 500 buses with all-electric versions, to install new infrastructure such as charging stations, and pay for electric grid updates.
This is certainly a step in the right direction as we await the delivery of 4,000 zero-emission buses pledged by government earlier last year and the release of the UK’s long-awaited National Bus strategy
It is difficult to know exactly what 2021 will bring – and there will certainly be further challenges ahead, but as ever SMMT stands ready to support the needs of all of our members. With more certainty over future trading conditions and the rollout of vaccines underway, we hope that recovery and a return to growth is in sight.