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2 minute read - 3rd July 2023

British commercial vehicle and car production up in May

UK commercial vehicle manufacturing grew 36.9% in May as 10,813 new vans, buses, trucks, coaches and taxis left British factories, according to new figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The sector’s performance was the strongest in May since 2008, surpassing its 10-year high for the month last year, and marking the second consecutive month of rising output.

Growth was driven by production for export last month, with a significant 48.1% rise in the number of commercial vehicles shipped overseas, at 7,943 units. More than seven in 10 (73.5%) British-built commercial vehicles left UK shores – 93.6% of which were exported to markets in the EU. More vehicles were also built for UK operators, meanwhile, with volumes up 13.1% to 2,870 units.

Manufacturers have made 46,927 units so far in 2023, up 14.3% on the same period last year, and a significant 47.6% above that in 2019. Positively, Britain’s commercial vehicle production volumes are due to increase further this year, reflecting less turbulent global supply chains and the launch of a new electric van manufacturing plant.

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UK commercial vehicle manufacturing had its best May for 15 years and car production output maintained its momentum of growth, according to the SMMT / Picture: Stellantis

In addition, UK car production rose for the fourth consecutive month in May, up 26.9% year on year, according to the latest figures published by the SMMT. 79,046 units left production lines, 16,762 more than in the same month last year, as manufacturers defied the challenging economic backdrop to fulfil customer demand for the latest British-built models, at home and overseas, although the total was still down -31.9% on May 2019.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With ongoing growth in demand for British commercial vehicles, particularly from overseas markets, the sector is bucking challenging economic trends. This is good news and puts the UK’s commercial vehicle producers in a strong position to deliver green growth for the economy and society. We can’t be complacent, however, and must ensure the UK remains a globally competitive location for advanced manufacturing – with measures still needed to tackle our high cost of energy and to guarantee that the UK has smooth and sustainable trading relationships around the world, especially with the EU.

“Another month of growth for UK car production is good news and a sign that, despite challenging economic conditions, the industry’s foundations are strong. But with weak GDP growth, high inflation and rising interest rates, it’s crucial that UK car factories stay globally competitive. All political parties must recognise the strategic importance of this sector and back our call for an industrial strategy that supports local production, assures export market access and attracts further investment to safeguard our future.”

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