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MADE IN UK: Commercial vehicle exports drive production in best year since 2010

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Photo credit: SMMT Copyright James Boley

UK commercial vehicle (CV) production increased by 18.5% in 2023 with 120,357 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches leaving factory lines, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Output reached its highest level in 13 years as global supply chain issues and pandemic-related challenges eased, allowing manufacturing to get back on track.

  • UK commercial vehicle production rises 18.5% to 120,357 units in best year since 2010.
  • Growth in both export and domestic markets, up 25.8% and 7.4% respectively in 2023.
  • December closes off positive 12 months, with output up 80.3% to 8,490 units.

Major investments were delivered throughout the year, including the start of volume electric van production at Ellesmere Port, and December wrapped up a successful 12 months with strong uplifts in output for both domestic and export markets.

Exports were responsible for the bulk of growth over the year, with global demand for British-built commercial vehicles rising more than a quarter (25.8%) to 76,953 units. Almost two thirds (63.9%) of production was for overseas markets, up from 60.2% in another 13-year high.

The EU again took pole position as the UK’s biggest global market, responsible for 94.2% of all CV exports as 72,461 units were shipped to the bloc in 2023. Completing the podium were Australia and the US, with 1,085 and 1,016 units respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The best performance for UK CV manufacturing in more than a decade confirms the industry’s recovery and the sustained demand for our high quality vehicles. The sector continues to face challenges, not least the transformation from internal combustion engines to the next generation of technologies that will power net zero products and drive economic growth.

The forthcoming Budget is another opportunity for government to get behind this critical sector, improving grid connections, increasing the availability of affordable green energy, and supporting operators to make the switch.

Further growth is expected in 2024, with light commercial vehicle volumes rising to 173,500 units and holding broadly steady ahead as the sector benefits from new model activity and a boost to electric van production.

Source and illustrations: SMMT

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