TNB News

A better normal, from diversity to decarbonisation

02 May 2024 #TNB News

With the pandemic now behind us, the road to recovery has been a long one but Britain’s commercial vehicle sector has worked at pace to get back on track – evident with manufacturers meeting significant pent-up demand for new vehicles as supply chains improved, regularly turning out the highest volumes from their factories in the past decade or more.

That continued in first three months of the year with the best Q1 performance since 2008, a fifth above pre-pandemic levels. March was the first month since September last year that production volumes declined, in part due to temporary supply chain shortages – with pandemics of course not the only cause of such challenges – as well as model changeovers as manufacturers bring more of the latest, greenest vehicles to market. As the market stabilises and backlogs finally clear up, it’s within industry’s grasp to set a new normal that’s more successful, greener and more diverse than ever before.

Indeed, growth is still expected this year overall, with the latest independent outlook expecting light van production volumes to exceed 135,000 units thanks to new electric vehicle output ramping up. Net zero means our longer term success depends on attracting new investment in producing more green vehicles, and that’s where government come in, to make sure Britain has attractive trade deals, low energy costs and the right conditions for driving – and therefore buying – zero emission vehicles in our domestic market.

Growth will come through working together, but also through inspiring leadership. To that end, it was great to see commercial vehicle sector leaders named among the winners of the Autocar Great Women 2024 awards this week, including Stellantis Ellesmere Port Plant Director Diane Miller, Ford of Britain and Ireland Managing Director Lisa Brankin, and Volkswagen’s Head of Group Corporate and Public Relations Kate Thompson.

Diversity is proven to bring a competitive edge to businesses, so it’s important that recruitment strategies are designed to bring in talent from as wide a range of backgrounds and protected characteristics as possible – something that can also help overcome the skills gaps our sector is currently facing. Congratulations to all of this year’s Great Women who will help inspire a new generation of people to lead our sector to an even better normal in the years to come.

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