Mike Hawes, boss of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has used the latest UK commercial vehicle production figures as a prompt to drive home the crucial role exports to the European Union play in maintaining the health of domestic LCV manufacturing.

Hawes said: “May’s CV manufacturing figures once again highlight the importance of exports to our industry. The EU remains our biggest customer, and securing the right conditions for future trade is vital for the sector. This means retaining the benefits of the single market and membership of the Custom’s Union. Anything less would undermine the future success of commercial vehicle manufacturing in the UK.”

Overall CV production in the UK declined by just 0.6% to 6,875 units in May. Production for export rose 11.6% year-on-year to 4,879 units but this was not enough to offset the 21.9% drop in numbers for the home market, with fewer than three in every 10 CVs built going to UK customers.

Over the first five months of the year production was down 8.4% to 33,384 compared to the same period in 2017. Although there were declines in both overseas (-1.3%) and domestic markets (-21.3%), exports continued to drive output – accounting for 70% of CV production in the year to 31 May.