According to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK commercial vehicle (CV) production increased 3.3% in September.
7,603 vans, trucks, taxis and buses were built in Britain last month, an increase of 240 units reportedly driven by production to fulfil several large UK fleet orders.
Output for the domestic and overseas markets grew 9.2% and 0.3% respectively, with exports making up 64.6% of vehicles produced. Nearly all (95.5%) of the units exported overseas were said to be for the EU market, the key trading partner for UK Automotive.
Although overall September performance looks positive and in line with previous years, bus and coach manufacturing continued to suffer from the effects of Covid, with volumes down -43.2% to just 63 units. Demand for new buses came to a virtual standstill when the nation entered lockdown in April, as social distancing measures discouraged public transport usage for most of the year. The fall in demand, therefore, caused production to plummet -54.2% to just 756 units so far this year compared with 1,652 in the first nine months of 2019.
Total CV production in the year to date remains at a low level, down -16.8% on last year, with a shortfall of almost 9,000 units in the first three quarters.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Fluctuating fleet buying cycles mask the underlying impact of the pandemic on commercial vehicles, but it is the bus and coach sector that is bearing the brunt. While manufacturers and their supply chains can flex and adjust, they cannot sustain such low demand for much longer and we urgently need government’s pledge to invest in the buses turned into action. More widely, as time to agree a Brexit deal runs out, we need negotiators to keep up the momentum to agree an FTA that will safeguard the sector’s future competitiveness in 2021 and beyond.”