UK commercial vehicle production rose last month despite the impact of the global chip shortage, according to new figures. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows a grand total of 7,799 new commercial vehicles, including vans, were built in British factories during September.

That figure represents a modest increase compared with September 2020, when that figure stood at 7,659. However, that 1.8-percent uplift in output comes at a time when global production is being stunted by the worldwide chip shortage.

With a number of factories having to cease production because of the shortage, the supply chain issues have already affected UK car production and sales. According to the SMMT, British factories produced 41.5 percent fewer cars in September 2021 than during the same month last year.

Opel Vivaro-e (2020)

All of which makes the rise in commercial vehicle production more welcome for the UK automotive industry. Thanks in part to September’s performance, the first nine months of the year have seen output outstrip 2020 levels by a healthy 15.4 percent.

Of course, production volumes are still down by a fifth (19.5 percent) on the pre-pandemic average for the first three quarters of the year, but the SMMT hailed the result as “good news”. Nevertheless, the organisation admitted there were still “challenges” for the industry as a result of the semiconductor shortage.

LEVC VN5

“Following last month’s decline in commercial vehicle production, the industry is back on track in September,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “This is particularly good news when viewed in context against last September, which was a strong month given the fulfilment of several large fleet orders. The sector is not out of the woods yet, however, and it still continues to face challenges, primarily from the global shortage of semiconductors, which is set to continue into next year.”

The SMMT also welcomed the news that domestic demand for UK-built commercial vehicles had risen dramatically. Almost 3,500 of the vehicles built in this country during September were destined for UK customers – an increase of more than a quarter compared with September 2020. As a result, output increased despite a slight drop in demand from foreign customers.

Overall during the first nine months of this year, exports have made up 51.5 percent of all commercial vehicles manufactured in the UK. Over the same period in 2020, exports accounted for 56.3 percent of all commercial vehicles built in the UK.