The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports UK engine and commercial vehicle manufacturing were up in March 2021, indicating some recovery from the pandemic-impacted March of the prior year. However, output is still down from pre-pandemic levels notes SMMT in its press release announcing March production figures.
UK engine production rises
March 2021 UK engine production rose 31.7% compared to the same month the previous year. According to SMMT, output for domestic and overseas markets increased 50.4% and 19.9% respectively. Performance for the first quarter of 2021 though is down 11.1%, says SMMT, with just 534,793 engines manufactured.
“These figures must be set in context as output in March 2020 was severely impacted by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which closed factories. UK engine production in the first quarter is down and the immediate outlook remains challenging. Companies are working tirelessly to maintain cross border trade, deal with COVID-19, and manage global component shortages, most obviously of semiconductors. It’s critical, therefore, that measures are taken to support UK automotive manufacturing competitiveness in the months ahead,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, in the organization's press release announcing March production figures.
Commercial vehicle production grows for first time
SMMT reports UK commercial vehicle production was up 16.9% in March with 6,166 units leaving manufacturing facilities. This was the first time production grew since September 2020. Output is still below pre-pandemic levels, however; it is down 32.2% on a March average over the previous 5 years says SMMT.
Domestic commercial vehicle production rose 34.7% while vehicles for overseas markets saw a lower increase of 3.2%. SMMT says this was due in part to renewed lockdown restrictions in some key markets as well as the UK-EU trade agreement adding further administrative burdens.
First quarter 2021 production was down 24.7% with 5,264 fewer vehicles produced compared to the same period the previous year.
"One year since the coronavirus pandemic first caused a nationwide lockdown, we are starting to see signs of recovery, with growth in commercial vehicle production for the first time in 6 months being very welcome," said Hawes. "March 2021 was always going to be up, as last year’s output was hit so badly by shuttered factories. While manufacturers are working hard to make up for production lost last year, getting back to pre-pandemic levels will take time as many LCV key export markets have new lockdown restrictions in place.
"Fleet renewal remains crucial to returning the commercial vehicle sector to growth, especially as manufacturers are investing heavily in new zero emission capable technologies that support operator and driver needs. The pace of this transformation can also ensure the UK remains an attractive and globally competitive destination for commercial vehicle manufacturing."