2015 was a good year for UK commercial vehicle (CV) manufacturers. CV manufacturing output rose by 33.3% to 94,479 units last year, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The clear highlight of the figures is the strong recovery seen in the European market last year, which suggests that some of the more troubled EU economies may finally be starting to signs of growth:
|CV manufacturing||Dec-14||Dec-15||% Change||YTD-14||YTD-15||% Change|
Data courtesy of the SMMT (www.smmt.co.uk)
However, what isn’t so obvious from these figures is that one company is supporting the UK’s CV sector pretty much single handed. Regular readers will probably guess that the company in question is Vauxhall, which built 60,280 Vivaro vans at its plant in Luton last year. That’s almost two-thirds of the UK’s entire CV output.
Vauxhall’s all-new Vivaro launched in 2014 and secured 1,500 jobs at the UK’s only dedicated light commercial vehicle plant, after workers won a ten-year contract and a £185 million investment. Since the original Vivaro started production, more than one million Vivaros have been built at Luton. It really is an outstanding British success story.
The Luton plant beat world class competition from across Europe to build the new van, making it all the more frustrating that Ford was not able to resist the temptation to move Transit production from Southampton to Turkey.
The impact of this and other closures in the wake of the financial crisis is best shown by this graph:
It would be interesting to know whether Vauxhall and the UK’s other CV manufactuerers would expect any knock-on effects on export volumes if the UK does vote to leave the EU in the promised Brexit referendum.
I have no idea — logically it does seem easier to trade within the EU than outside it, but then again we import plenty of Japanese cars without problems.