That's down from more than 7,000 in the same month two years ago

May was yet another quiet month for the UK’s commercial vehicle manufacturers, as just over 800 vehicles were produced all month. It’s the third month of low production, after the coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdown slashed the number of vehicles built in March and April.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show 810 commercial vehicles, including vans, rolled through factory gates last month, down more than 60 percent on the 2,110 built during the same period last year. Although that doesn’t sound especially bad – particularly if you consider car production fell 95 percent last month – it should be remembered that May 2019 saw production decline by almost 70 percent compared with May 2018.

With that in mind, perhaps the fifth month of 2018 is a better period to compare. By that measure, last month’s commercial vehicle production was down 88.4 percent on the 7,010 vehicles built in the same month two years earlier.


Whichever way you cut it, though, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on commercial vehicle production in this country. As of the end of May, just under 22,300 commercial vehicles had been built in the UK – a reduction of almost 30 percent compared with the same point last year.

But the commercial vehicle market isn’t the only one struggling to recover as lockdown measures lift. A mere 5,314 cars were built in this country last month, down from more than 116,000 in the same month of 2019, and total production during the first five months of the year was more than 40 percent behind figures from the same period in 2019.

2019 Vauxhall Vivaro Panel Van

These figures follow an SMMT member survey that estimated one in six UK automotive jobs would be at risk this year, and the organisation has urged the government to provide support to the industry. The government has pledged £73.5 million for eco-friendly automotive projects, but the SMMT wants measures to increase consumer confidence and improve the cash flow of businesses in the sector.

“With many plants still shut and those open operating at reduced capacity, these figures illustrate the need for urgent support to drive a successful restart,” said the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes. “Measures to drive demand, boost liquidity and facilitate short-time working as production ramps up are essential for light and heavy commercial vehicle makers as well as the struggling bus sector. Restoring operator confidence is key to fleet renewal and thus ambitions for a green recovery.”