SMMT News UK Manufacturing

CV sector returns to growth in best October since 2008

30 November 2023 #SMMT News #UK Manufacturing
  • UK commercial vehicle production returns to growth, rising 47.1% in October as 12,853 units roll out of factory gates.
  • Growth recorded in both export and domestic markets, up 47.0% and 47.2% respectively.
  • Year-to-date output increases significantly by 15.3%, driven by exports, of which nine in 10 head to the EU.
  • Strength of market sees latest LCV production outlook revised up to 107,000 units – an increase of 34.2% year on year.

UK commercial vehicle (CV) production returned to growth in October following September’s decline, rising 47.1% year on year, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 12,853 vans, buses, trucks, coaches and taxis rolled out of factory gates, up 4,113 units on last year and with the best percentage gain of the year. In a sign of the significance of the recovery, the increase is October’s best performance since 2008, up 41.4% on 2019’s pre-pandemic figures.1

Output in the month was driven by production for export, up 47.0% to 8,680 units as more than two-thirds (67.5%) of output was shipped abroad. The EU cemented its place yet again as the UK’s largest international market, receiving 96.0% of exports – reinforcing the need for strong and stable trading links overseas.2 The domestic market also boasted a strong monthly performance, with orders increasing by 47.2% to 4,173 units.

October’s figures solidify CV manufacturing’s strong performance in the year-to-date, up 15.3% to 98,610 units – an increase of 58.6% on the same period in 2019 and representing the best 10 months since 2011.3 Exports continued their double-digit rise, increasing 21.4% to 62,229 units, whilst the home market recorded more modest growth of 6.1% to 36,381 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A return to growth after September’s dip highlights the sector’s resilience and ability to build high-quality commercial vehicles – evident in the increasing demand for British-build vans at home and beyond. Continuing success, however, is not guaranteed. Tougher Rules of Origin for electric vans are set to come into effect from 1 January 2024, posing significant challenges so with just weeks remaining, a resolution is needed urgently, one that helps the sector on both sides of the Channel avoid additional cost and competitiveness challenges.

Reflective of the strong performance and recent investment, the latest independent production outlook projects that UK light commercial vehicle plants will experience a 34.2% increase in production, manufacturing 107,000 LCVs in 2023. This represents a substantial year-on-year uplift of 27,293 units, with further growth expected in 2024 as the UK delivers additional full year production of the latest green vans.4

Notes to editors

1 October 2008 production 13,106 units and 2019 9,087 units
2 European CV export figures: 8,358 units
3 UK CV production 2019: 62,190 units; UK CV production 2011: 100,363 units
4 Based on independent production outlook produced by AutoAnalysis

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