The UK commercial vehicle industry enjoyed its most productive January in more than a decade, according to new figures. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows almost 9,300 new commercial vehicles, including vans, taxis and trucks, were built in this country during the first month of 2023.

That figure represents an increase of more than a third (35.6 percent) compared with the same month in 2022, when fewer than 7,000 new commercial vehicles rolled off UK production lines. That made January the industry’s strongest start to a year since 2012, when more than 9,800 new commercial vehicles were built.

January’s strong performance came as a result of strong demand from international markets, the SMMT said, with the number of vehicles built for foreign customers rising by 35 percent. In total, more than 5,300 commercial vehicles built in the UK were destined for export, accounting for 57.3 percent of the total. Of those, nine in every 10 (91.8 percent) were destined for countries in the European Union.

Toyota Corolla Commercial

Although there was a significant increase in demand from abroad, that was matched by demand from UK customers. Just under 4,000 new commercial vehicles were built for the domestic market – an increase of more than 36 percent compared with the same month last year.

According to the SMMT, UK commercial vehicle production is set to increase “significantly” throughout 2023, with new models set to enter protection and a major new electric van manufacturing plant set to come on stream. It’s a boost that could see the UK build more than 160,000 commercial vehicles in 2023.

First electric van prototypes in build at LEVC

The SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes, said the industry was growing in spite of challenges such as the increase in energy prices and global supply issues. However, he said the sector would need support from government to remain ahead of the curve.

“The UK’s commercial vehicle sector continues to show resilience, surpassing the previous ten years of January output even in the face of global supply shortages and soaring energy costs,” said Hawes. “To ensure this success continues, we need a framework which secures globally competitive conditions and underpins the delivery of sustainable manufacturing, rapid decarbonisation and economic growth to keep Britain ahead in the race to net zero.”