CV production suffers March dip

UK commercial vehicle (CV) manufacturing output decreased by three per cent in March, with 9,822 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches produced, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The decline of just 308 units must be set against March 2022, which was the best March since 2011, and draws an uneven first quarter of the year to a close, with a large rise in January followed by declines in February and March as temporary supply shortages continued to affect output.

Vehicles produced for overseas markets declined in March, with exports down by 3.2% to 5,809 units, while output for the domestic market also fell, by 2.8% to 4,013 units.

However, production volumes are expected to increase in the coming months as new electric van manufacturing comes on stream and supply chain constraints ease.

Even with the March fall, manufacturing output remains up 1.1% in the year to date, at 25,554 units, with the growth driven primarily by a strong January performance and overseas demand.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Despite some incidents of supply chain turbulence, UK commercial vehicle production kicked off 2023 in decent health and the overall trend is one of growth with volumes expected to rise as the year goes on. To secure long term success, however, given the once-in-a-generation challenges involved in transitioning to new, zero emission technologies, the sector must remain competitive.

“We therefore need government to introduce measures that stimulate fresh investment, with the UK’s high cost of energy the biggest barrier to competitiveness, and action to reform business rates essential.”