UK commercial vehicle (CV) production fell -41.8% in March, with 5,219 units leaving production lines, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
UK Commercial Vehicle Production Falls
Some 3,807 fewer vans, trucks, taxis and buses left factory gates than in the same month last year, as nationwide coronavirus lockdown measures forced plants to close partway through the month.
Output for the domestic market fell -43.4%, while production for export declined -40.6% as the pandemic caused business closures and dented confidence around the world. The EU, the UK’s biggest trading partner for commercial vehicles, saw a drop in exports of -43.3%, with 2,762 units shipped to Europe. Year-to-date commercial vehicle production has now fallen -22.0% with 21,473 units manufactured in the first quarter, some 6,000 fewer than in Q1 2019.
The news comes as SMMT published the results of a survey looking at the impact of Covid-19 on UK businesses across the automotive sector. 42.1% of all commercial vehicle manufacturers that responded believe a full recovery from the coronavirus crisis will take them at least 12 months with a third (36.8%) expecting a loss in revenue of 30% or more by the end of 2020.
However, government schemes such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) have offered a vital lifeline to many businesses, protecting thousands of jobs, with 57.7% of permanent staff in the CV manufacturing sector on furlough and able to return to work when the time comes.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive said, "The foundations of UK commercial vehicle production are strong, but manufacturers have been hit hard by the pandemic and factory shutdowns are costing the sector and economy billions. While many businesses have stayed open to ensure continued production of parts so that essential vehicles can stay on the roads to support nationwide response, we need to get all production lines rolling and delivering for the economy again.
"This means implementing a package of measures that supports the entire automotive industry, from retail through supply chains to vehicle manufacture. This should be seen as long-term investment into the underlying competitiveness of a sector critical to the health of the UK economy and the livelihoods of thousands of households right across the UK."