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Britain’s CV sector must be at the front of the queue

25 May 2023 #TNB News

As the UK continues to grow its capacity to manufacture electric vehicles for fleet operators at home and abroad, it is promising that CV production is hitting decade-long highs – putting the sector in a strong position for green growth in the years to come.

SMMT’s new figures today show that output in April was the best for the month since 2010, with 10,504 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches rolling off factory lines – a sign that recent supply chain shortages are easing.

The growth was driven by a 56.3% rise in exports, with seven in 10 newly made vans heading abroad, and the EU remains the sector’s biggest overseas market, taking some 94.4% of those leaving the UK. It means that overall CV output is now up 9.0% in the year to date, representing the best performance since 2012.

Some of the latest CVs on the market joined the track at SMMT Test Day today, with vans and pick-ups being driven by national, trade and regional journalists, while a selection of trucks were also on display. With ever-growing battery ranges and a rising number of models available, the event is the ideal for the media to become more acquainted with them.

While production for the UK has fallen, that is expected to change as Ellesmere Port becomes home to Europe’s first manufacturing facility dedicated to producing electric vans, with the majority of them expected to stay in the UK. As electric vans join UK roads in rising numbers, with businesses enjoying the benefits that a zero emission fleet has to offer, it is crucial that a commensurate level of van-suitable public charging infrastructure is built across the four nations – giving more operators the confidence to invest in the latest vehicles made on our shores.

Electric is not the only solution, however: the Commercial Vehicle Show in 2021 revealed that a hydrogen-powered van is expected to be delivered to the UK market by 2025, and the need for hydrogen refuelling stations – for vehicles of all sizes – will become more important.

The whole automotive sector and stakeholders must work together to make the UK a world leader in decarbonisation, which, given that countries around the world are speeding up their transition, will require an industrial strategy that guarantees Britain will be a globally competitive location for investment in the long term. Beneficial trade relationships are key, so it important that recent concern over potential tariffs related to rules of origin in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement can be resolved quickly.

With a CV manufacturing sector that is ready to thrive with the right green investment, an industrial strategy is needed to create the right business conditions and place the UK at front of mind for advanced automotive manufacturing.

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