UK commercial vehicle manufacturing output fell by 26% in September, as home demand continued to fall and support from export buyers fell away.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), CV output for domestic buyers fell by 32% in September, compared to the same period last year. Manufacturing for export output fell by 21%, removing support that has helped overall output remain fairly stable up until now.
In total, 7,208 vans, trucks, buses and coaches were built in the UK last month:
Commenting on the figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said:
“Domestic demand for commercial vehicles has taken a hit in recent months and this is being mirrored in UK production figures. While fluctuating fleet orders are a natural feature of the market, the decline in business confidence, caused by economic and political uncertainty, has resulted in further disruption to manufacturing output. It is, therefore, critical government safeguards the conditions needed for this vital sector to thrive.”
Are Brexit fears starting to affect buying patterns? Who knows. In my view, perhaps a greater concern is the slump in export demand, which suggests that the increase seen as southern European economies started to recover may not be as durable as hoped for.
Export demand is an increasingly important factors, as CVs built for export now account for 62% of all CV manufacturing output.
Although the overall picture for the year-to-date is more benign, with total CV output down 11%, the trend is still worrying. We await this autumn’s figures with interest.