TNB News

CV sector takes another step into the future

29 February 2024 #TNB News

New figures from SMMT this week show long-term growth in the number of commercial vehicles made in the UK is continuing into 2024, with more than 11,700 vans, pickups, 4x4s, taxis, trucks and buses rolling off the production line in January. It means more UK-made vehicles keeping British businesses on the move and also, with exports exceptionally strong – nearly seven in ten vehicles went overseas last month – we’re also championing global Britain.

A big part of the story is ongoing investment in manufacturing the very greenest vehicles here in the UK, at volume. Britain’s mix of zero emission commercial vehicle model output is wide and covers many use cases – from 2.5 up to 18 tonnes, including vans, trucks, buses and, coming soon, a new hydrogen coach. Continued expansion will be crucial to creating more British jobs and economic growth in the years to come.

But net zero is not just about the vehicles – it’s also about the net zero ecosystem, including supply chain, the aftermarket and skills. Yesterday’s confirmation that spades will enter the ground of Somerset’s new electric car battery manufacturing facility from this Spring is fantastic for the locality, providing 4,000 highly skilled jobs. Last week, I visited Germany and saw first-hand how hydrogen trucks are manufactured, using a base vehicle glider and adding the power train components. We have similar companies in the UK on a smaller scale and hydrogen vehicles have a role to play in the future either for long haul vehicles – for trucks but also coaches, where operators must carry luggage, 50 to 60 passengers and provide disability access.

Government support to attract more industry investment in heavier zero emission vehicles, components and skills is also important, and it means Britain must be a globally competitive location for such investment. The Spring Budget next week provides an opportunity to commit to more affordable green energy, scaling up our grid capacity and workforce upskilling, to boost that competitiveness. Following through on measures already announced including the Advanced Manufacturing Plan will also be necessary, as well as implementing the Harrington Review’s recommendations for increasing trade and foreign direct investment.

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