New figures show UK commercial vehicle production increased by more than a quarter in April despite the global supply chain issues. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows a total of 7,879 commercial vehicles, including vans, taxis, buses and trucks were built in the UK last month.

That figure represented a 27.6-percent increase compared with the same month in 2021, when fewer than 6,200 new commercial vehicles were built on British shores. It also meant the UK commercial vehicle manufacturing industry enjoyed its busiest April since 2016.

The growth in production was primarily driven by a 58-percent uplift in the number of commercial vehicles built for export, with more than 4,700 new vehicles built for foreign customers. However, the number of vehicles built for British customers fell slightly, down one percent to 3,156, meaning exports made up 59.9 percent of the vehicles produced.

Vauxhall Vivaro-e

Over the first four months of 2022, British factories churned out more than 33,000 new vehicles – up almost 50 percent compared with the same period last year. That increase comes in spite of supply chain issues and a global chip shortage that has plagued the new car manufacturing sector.

The SMMT says the industry has been challenged by those shortages, as well as suffering from the effects of the energy price hikes and inflation. The combined impact of these issues meant UK new car production fell by more than 10 percent last month compared with the same month in 2021. But the commercial vehicle sector has been less severely impacted, as the substantial increase in production in 2022 reveals.

LEVC VN5

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the increase in demand had allowed the sector to exceed pre-pandemic output despite the challenges facing it.

“Thanks to significant demand from overseas markets, our CV output has not only increased on last year, but has surpassed even pre-pandemic levels,” said Hawes. “This is testament to the resilience of manufacturers and evidence of the role the sector can play in the UK’s long-term economic recovery.

“There remain, however, significant challenges behind these headline figures, with the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors and the war in Ukraine impacting the global industry. Most pressing, however, are the soaring energy costs and rampant inflation, and the government must act urgently if we are to secure the future competitiveness of this critical sector and the jobs and livelihoods it supports.”