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Commercial vehicle production in the UK recovers in 2021

On the heels of having experienced the worst year since records began, 2021 ended on a high for commercial vehicle production, with a rise of 11.3% on the previous year.

UK factories produced 73,600 of the latest vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches throughout the year, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Production soared despite the continuing global semiconductor shortage, which has been compounded by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The resilience of the CV manufacturers has shone through, however, and component supply has been secured in order to allow production to continue at full strength.


Growth in 2021 has been driven by an increase in sales of vehicles for home delivery - a sector of the economy which has boomed since COVID-19 hit. Output grew by 3.2% in December, rounding out a robust year, given the continuing challenges.

Production for UK customers increased by 27.3%, with just a minor fall (-0.6%) in production destined for overseas markets. Despite this, more than half (51.2%) of all output was exported, with the bulk heading to EU markets which saw a 93.2% export share.


However, despite that growth, the sector still lags behind its pre-pandemic results as the total count of vehicles manufactured ended up 14.4%, or 12,356 vehicles, down on the five-year pre-pandemic average.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said:

 “After the worst year in a lifetime, the growth in production for commercial vehicles during 2021 is extremely welcome. Despite a plethora of challenges, manufacturers have remained operational throughout the year.
The sector isn’t out of the woods yet, however, and challenges remain heading into 2022. Support will be necessary to ensure the supply chain can overcome ongoing semiconductor-related shortages as well as measures to ensure energy costs do not rise to an extent that it significantly undermines competitiveness.”

Other areas of the UK automotive industry didn’t perform quite do well, with engine production dropping by more than 10% despite the ongoing economic recovery. Again, domestic supply remains resilient, dropping by just 3.6% compared to the export market’s 15.4% fall.


Production of cars in the UK slumped significantly, ending 2021 down by 6.7% on 2020’s results, and down a massive 34% on 2019’s pre-pandemic figures. The semiconductor shortage is again being blamed, along with the closure of Honda’s factory in Swindon.


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