Commercial vehicle production slowed down in the UK February, despite the fact that the effects of coronavirus will not be registered until next month’s figures.
UK CV factories produced 7,980 vehicles in February, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows. That’s 13.6% less than in February last year, though the SMMT points out that February 2019 was an especially good month.
The drop in production was the result of reduced demand in key European markets. As export fell by 26.2%, to 4,701 units, or 1,670 fewer than last year. Year-to-date, export is also down 19.9% on 2019.
The number of commercial vehicles produced for the home market actually grew, but not enough to compensate for the drop in export. UK plants produced 3,279 vehicles for domestic use, 14.6% more than last year, although the year-to-date is still down 0.9%.
Over the course of the month of March, practically all vehicle factories across Europe announced they would close as a result of the coronavirus, so the figures for March are expected to be negligible.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The UK’s commercial vehicle sector is critical to the fight against coronavirus, working night and day to deliver food, medicine and other essential goods and services to support society’s most vulnerable and help prop up the economy.
“Government’s pledge of emergency finance and other measures to help protect these businesses and workers during the crisis has been widely welcomed but it is now about getting that relief to all companies in the fastest time possible. Meanwhile, additional provisions for official road-approval testing to get even more essential vehicles in service and supporting the national effort must also be implemented urgently.”