CV production lifts itself from floor

UK commercial vehicle (CV) production grew 11.3% in 2021, following the worst year on record.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has reported that 73,600 of the latest vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches left factory lines last year.

Despite the global semiconductor shortage – a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic – CV manufacturers demonstrated their resilience, securing component supply allowing production lines to remain fully operational. Growth was largely driven by an increase in sales of rigid 2 axle trucks and vans as demand for home deliveries soared during lockdowns. December’s output grew 3.2% to finish off a robust year, given the challenging business environment.

While this is positive news, it must be viewed in the context of a Covid-ravaged 2020, which saw social distancing measures and lockdowns throughout the year badly affect manufacturing capabilities.

The 2021 performance, although an improvement on 2020, was still 14.4%, or some 12,356 units, down on the five-year pre pandemic average.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “After the worst year in a lifetime, the growth in production for commercial vehicles during 2021 is extremely welcome. Despite a plethora of challenges, manufacturers have remained operational throughout the year. The sector isn’t out of the woods yet, however, and challenges remain heading into 2022. Support will be necessary to ensure the supply chain can overcome ongoing semiconductor-related shortages as well as measures to ensure energy costs do not rise to an extent that it significantly undermines competitiveness.”