The UK commercial vehicle manufacturing industry enjoyed its most productive year for a decade, according to figures released this week. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed 101,600 new vans, trucks, buses and taxis were built on these shores in 2022.

That figure represents a 39.3 percent increase compared with 2021, and a 29.8 percent increase compared with pre-pandemic 2019. That comes despite the difficulties that have dogged manufacturing in recent times, including supply shortages and economic and political disruption. Even so, 2022 saw factories produce a higher number of British-built commercial vehicles than any year since 2012.

However, the difficulties did make their presence felt in December, when output was down by almost a quarter compared with the same month in 2021. That said, the industry has fared far better than the car production industry, and output is expected to grow further in 2023, when the SMMT expects more than 160,000 new commercial vehicles to be built in the UK.

Vauxhall Vivaro-e

Last year, the growth was primarily driven by demand from abroad, with the number of vehicles built for foreign customers increasing by a mammoth 63.4 percent. Of the commercial vehicles built in the UK in 2022, more than 60 percent were destined for foreign soil – up from 51.4 percent in 2021.

That staggering growth masked strong demand for British vehicles from customers in the UK. The number of vehicles built for domestic customers also increased, rising by more than 14 percent, but that was overshadowed by huge increases in demand from abroad.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said, last year’s performance was down to the “determination” of the industry, but warned that future success would be dependent on the government creating the right conditions for the industry to thrive.

“British CV manufacturing’s best annual performance in a decade is testament to the determination and agility of the sector, which continued to meet strong demand despite extremely challenging operating conditions,” he said. “However, long-term success is contingent on the sector’s ability to remain competitive in the global race to net zero. Support to bring down soaring energy costs, encourage investment in zero emission technologies, and equip our talented workforce with the right skills to deliver these vehicles, will be essential in keeping the nation and economy on the move.”

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