Rising global demand for British-made commercial vehicles has driven manufacturing to new highs this year, with output rising by 16.0% from January to June compared with the same period last year – with some 58,675 vans, buses, trucks and taxis rolling out of Britain’s factories. June was amongst the best months of the year, up 23.0% to 11,478 units and rounding off growth in each month of Q2.
When discussing CV sector manufacturing performance in 2023, it’s important to remember that we’re comparing it with last year, which was itself the UK’s best performance for a decade. In comparison with 2019, for example, CV production in 2023 has increased by a huge 67.0%.
As the sector continues to attract overseas demand, exports grew by 26.7% on 2022, reaching 37,803 units. It’s no surprise then that overseas shipments took more than six in 10 (64.4%) of CVs built in Britain since January. More than nine in 10 (92.8%) were shipped to countries in the EU, followed by America and Asia. Volumes for the domestic market increased marginally, with output up 0.5% to 20,872 units.
Looking closer at the numbers, this year marked the best first half year for UK van production since 2011 as supply chain constraints continue to ease. Monthly volumes are set to rise further in the second half of the year, on the back of new model activity and, notably, the expected opening of a new electric van production facility in the North West.
As a result, the industry’s latest independent outlook anticipates that light commercial vehicle production will grow by 44.0%, reaching some 114,500 units this year. Volumes are expected to rise again in 2024 to nearly 150,000 units, providing the right economic conditions and the continuation of existing UK-EU trade in electric vehicles.
The guarantee of free trade is so important to sustaining a competitive business environment, particularly for the CV sector, which brings massive export value to the UK – along with highly skilled jobs, cutting-edge innovation and international esteem. For these reasons, there must be more effort to ensure that Britain has long-term tariff-free trade, while building on our global strengths to attract further investment.
SMMT launched its Manifesto 2030: Automotive growth for a zero emission future last month to set out five key pledges that will help to drive UK automotive manufacturing growth even higher. It has called for all political parties to back the industry and address competitiveness issues, notably supporting the upskilling of the workforce as it transitions from engines to batteries, the supply of affordable and green energy, and action to facilitate a healthy electric vehicle market through world-class charging infrastructure and incentives.
If these objectives can be achieved, then there is little doubt that the UK CV sector will set new highs again in the years to come.