UK commercial vehicle production enjoyed its best April since 2010 last month, with more than 10,500 new vehicles built on these shores. That’s according to new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which says the increase was driven by “healthy demand” from abroad.
With a total of 10,504 new commercial vehicles, including vans, trucks and buses, built in the UK last month, output was up by 33.3 percent compared with the same month last year. It’s the best April performance for the industry since the April of 2010, when 10,777 commercial vehicles were built in the UK.
Growth was entirely driven by demand from export markets, with output for foreign customers rising by 56.3 percent compared with April 2022. That huge leap in demand coincided with a cooling of the domestic market, output for which was down by 1.1 percent year on year.
As a result, a massive 70.3 percent of all new commercial vehicles built in the UK in April headed abroad, up from 59.9 percent in April 2022. The majority of those exports – 94.4 percent, in fact – were built for customers in the European Union, with just a handful heading further afield.
Thanks to the strong April performance, output for the first four months of 2023 is now up by nine percent compared with the same period in 2022, with more than 36,000 new commercial vehicles built. That’s despite output falling in both February and March of this year, relative to the same months in 2022.
The export market has been particularly strong, with almost 22,000 UK-built commercial vehicles heading abroad – an increase of more than 16 percent. But that has been tempered by a slight reduction in the number of vehicles built here for UK customers, which is down by just under one percent.
According to the SMMT, though, overall production volumes are expected to increase further throughout the year, as supply chain constraints begin to ease and new electric van manufacturing comes on stream.
“It’s good news to see the commercial vehicle market bounce back – surpassing even pre-pandemic levels – to deliver the best April performance in 13 years,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “This is healthy growth driven by significant demand from overseas markets, namely Europe, highlighting the need to protect this trade, which is critical to our ongoing success. For growth to continue, however, the government must introduce measures that not only invite investment and reduce the erratic energy costs that threaten our competitiveness, but also find a sensible solution to the rules of origin challenge faced by manufacturers.”