After 11 consecutive months of growth, commercial vehicle production faltered slightly in February, according to new figures. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows production of commercial vehicles, including vans, trucks and taxis, was down by around a fifth last month.

The SMMT figures show just under 6,500 new commercial vehicles rolled off UK production lines in February, down 21.6 percent compared with the same month in 2022. The SMMT, which represents vehicle producers and dealers, said the drop was primarily down to “supply chain constraints”.

The news brings to an end 11 months of consecutive growth for the sector, culminating in the best January performance for more than a decade during the first month of 2023. However, February’s performance was considerably weaker, given more than 8,000 commercial vehicles were built during the same month last year.

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In 2023, however, February saw a drop in the number of vehicles produced for customers both in the UK and abroad, with domestic output down by almost a quarter (24.7 percent). However, with just 3,000 vehicles produced for UK customers, the domestic market represents less than half of all new commercial vehicles that are built in the UK. But with the number of vehicles built for foreign customers down by 18.6 percent, to 3,460, output was still down dramatically.

Even so, output for the first two months of 2023 remains well ahead of output during the same period last year. Thanks to the bumper January, more than 15,790 new commercial vehicles were built in the UK during the first two months of the year, up 4.3 percent compared with the beginning of 2022. Although growth has come from both the domestic and export markets, the increase is mostly down to a 7.2-percent uplift in the number of vehicles manufactured for foreign customers.

“Following last year’s strong growth and a bumper start to 2023, February’s decline in commercial vehicle output is disappointing,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “The fall should, however, be temporary as additional production begins later in the year.

“UK automotive manufacturers continue to show resilience against persistent supply chain and economic challenges and will push to deliver the latest and cleanest commercial vehicles to customers at home and abroad. But success isn’t yet guaranteed, so we look now to the government to provide a framework of measures that boost the industry’s long-term competitiveness and encourage inward investment to drive electrification for this vital sector.”

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