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Significant Q1 UK Commercial Vehicle Production in 2024 Despite March Dip

New CVs manufacturing graphic

British commercial vehicle production experienced its strongest first quarter since 2008, surging by 27.4% to 32,626 units, with export volumes increasing by 57.9%. However, manufacturing in the UK saw a decline of -13.1%. Despite growth in January and February, March recorded a -19.2% decline to 7,943 units.

UK Commercial Vehicle Output Surges by 27.4% in Q1 2024: SMMT Report

UK commercial vehicle (CV) output rose by 27.4% in the first quarter of 2024, the best Q1 performance since 2008, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).1 32,626 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches left factory lines, up 18.6% on pre-pandemic 2019 volumes, with demand driven by overseas orders.

Exports rose 57.9% to 23,060 units in the first quarter ¬ —an increase of 8,452 vehicles to account for 70.7% of year-to-date output, up from 57.0% in Q1 2023—thanks to demand for the latest cutting-edge and increasingly zero-emission British-built CVs. The EU remained the top export destination, with more than nine in 10 vehicles (96.7%) heading for the bloc. Meanwhile, UK market production declined 13.1% to 9,566 units.

UK Commercial Vehicle Production Sees Monthly Decline in March 2024

However, growth in January and February was followed by a -19.2% decline in March output to 7,943 units – the first monthly fall since September 2023. Exports declined by -12.6% to 5,084 units against the same month last year, with 732 fewer units made, while production for the UK fell -28.8% to 2,859 units. The performance reflects market normalisation as manufacturers have worked hard to meet strong pent-up pandemic-related demand, as well as some temporary supply chain shortages and the early Easter bank holiday, which reduced working days in the month compared with 2023. Growth is still expected this year, with the latest independent outlook expecting light van production volumes to hit over 135,000 units due to electric vehicle output ramping up.

SMMT’s Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, “It’s good to see UK CV production record its best Q1 performance in some 16 years. This success is a testament to the determination of manufacturers to deliver for this vital sector while investing in the latest cutting-edge, ultra-low, and zero-emission technology.”

Hawes continued, “Global demand continues for British-built commercial vehicles, emphasising the need for favourable market conditions to sustain our production capabilities for increasingly green vehicles. This means reducing energy costs, upskilling our workforce, and maintaining free and fair trade deals, allowing us to attract further investment to improve productivity and decarbonise automotive manufacturing and its supply chain.”

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