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Gloucestershire Business News

ANALYSIS: No commercial break as van production soars

UK commercial vehicle production almost doubled in February.

With 12,927 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches leaving factory lines, latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicate a 98.4% uplift in volume when set against the same month in 2023 - and the best February since 2008.

Seen in relief, the dramatic rise is largely attributable to the challenges that were being faced in February 2023, when supply chain issues, notably semiconductor shortages, dented factory output.

But February's production boost was also driven by significant demand for British-built vehicles in overseas markets, the SMMT said.

In total, exports increased by 188.0% to 10,011 units, representing 77.4% of all CVs made here in the month, and more than nine in every 10 (97.6%) units being destined for the EU.

Within that data, output for the home market actually fell for the second month in a row, down -4.0% to 2,916 units, although this represented a decline of just 123 vehicles.

Mike Hawes, SMMT CEO, said: "CV manufacturing has kickstarted the year with two months of impressive growth as robust overseas demand for British-built vans continues."

He added that the challenge now was to maintain this success amid fierce global competition, with every need to keep the pedal pushed on zero emission vehicle production "to enable the fast paced delivery of these critical models.

"Strong performing economies at home and abroad will be key to this ambition," he said.

In the year to date, 24,683 CVs have been built in Britain, up some 56.4% on the first two months of 2023. Exports have driven this growth, up 104.5% to 17,976 units, an increase of 9,184, while volumes for the home market have fallen by 279 to 6,707.

Autogiant Stellantis recently invested £100m at Ellesmere Port, home of the Astra for 30 years. The Vauxhalll Combo electric built here will offer a new spec and longer range (to 205 miles) on its predecessor, with prices likely to be from £26,800 and broadly £5,000 cheaper than before.

Stellantis is to further extend production of electric vans for more of its brand family from the facility, including Fiat and Citroen equivalents to the Combo.

It won't be cheap, but the anticipated sale of the superbly retro Morris Commercial JE, on sale this Q4 for around £60,000, will sit in the sweet spot for current plug-in van demand. The Worcestershire-based maker is pinning its hopes on growing momentum in the electric van market where demand for a standout product that draws on English motoring's heritage will spell keen demand for such a unique offering. As current legislation provides, a £5,000 grant would be available to buyers, while the maker also plans leasing options.

● In further SMMT analysis, production for cars in the UK has seen its fifth consecutive monthly rise, with February's tally of 79,907 unit sales signalling a rise of 14.6%.

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