The SMMT has called for government emergency finance to get to commercial vehicle operators and manufacturers in the “fastest possible time” as the sector copes with the impact of COVID-19.
Speaking as the SMMT revealed figures for commercial vehicle production in the UK for February chief executive Mike Hawes, 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,” he added.
The manufacturing of commercial vehicles declined -13.6% in February, as exports fell in excess of a quarter, accounting for 7,980 vans, trucks and buses. It said that the performance followed a bumper February in 2019 when output grew by more than half ahead of key model changes, and reflected the cyclical nature of this low volume sector.
The SMMT said that slower demand in key European markets saw production for export fall -26.2% in the month, with 1,670 fewer units shipped overseas. Meanwhile, following five months of decline, output for the domestic market returned to growth, up 14.6%, with 3,279 vans, trucks and buses built for UK operators.
However the SMMT said that there were now widespread plant closures across the UK as manufacturers respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
It said that while CV production in the UK is was largely expected to be on shutdown for the coming month, the sector is striving to ensure component production and the provision of maintenance services for essential transport, delivery and emergency service vehicles could continue.