The UK commercial vehicle industry enjoyed its best May in a decade despite ongoing supply chain issues. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), production rose by more than a quarter in the fifth month of 2022, with 7,900 vehicles leaving factory gates.
That represents an increase of 26.5 percent compared with May 2021, when just 6,243 commercial vehicles, including vans, buses and taxis, were built. It’s the highest level of output in the month of May since 2012, and it comes in spite of global chip shortages and supply issues caused by the war in Ukraine.
May’s increase in production also came in spite of a 26.3-percent drop in output for domestic customers. However, that was offset by the fact production for foreign customers almost doubled, up 91.6 percent compared with May 2021. As a result, almost seven in every 10 British-built commercial vehicles were exported in May, with 92 percent of those destined for the European Union.
Although the car manufacturing industry has suffered enormously at the hands of the chip shortage, the commercial vehicle sector has been in comparatively rude good health. Over the first five months of 2022, more than 41,000 new commercial vehicles were built in the UK, up 44 percent on the same period last year. Even compared with the first five months of pre-pandemic 2019, 2022’s output is up by 29.1 percent.
Despite May’s statistics, the number of vehicles built for British customers during the first five months of the year rose by 16.4 percent, but the export market grew even more dramatically. Exports were up 72.1 percent on the same period in 2021, with six in every 10 new commercial vehicles (59 percent) heading abroad.
“The commercial vehicle (CV) sector is a rare beacon amid the gloom of economic challenges being faced by businesses and fleet operators in the UK,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
“With the best year to May output for a decade, and a growing number of zero-emission commercial vehicle models for a wider range of use cases, there are grounds for optimism. However, competitiveness is not guaranteed as rising energy costs and inflation continue to have a detrimental impact on manufacturers and markets. These issues must be tackled head-on, to enable investment in innovation and training that will drive the CV sector’s transition to net zero [emissions], future-proofing jobs and livelihoods for years to come.”