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A landmark week for Britain’s CV sector

Published to the CV Show website on

With UK van production at a 12-year high, the launch of Britain’s first electric vehicle-dedicated manufacturing plant in Ellesmere Port today is a landmark moment for the UK automotive sector, and particularly for the CV sector, consolidating our position at the forefront of the transition to becoming a leading nation for net zero manufacturing. As well as supporting jobs, growth and decarbonisation – all of which are benefits to gain from the green transition – it also means that Britain is throwing down the gauntlet for other global manufacturers to make their investments on UK shores.

Much of those electric vans are expected to remain in the UK or be exported to the EU, boosting green van fleet renewal and growing exports, while helping to drive down emissions in towns and cities across the country. It will add to Britain’s already thriving UK van market, with a vast range of excellent brands and models – including electric models – available to operators. The strength of the market was underlined again this week with new SMMT figures for August, showing rising demand for new vans for the eighth consecutive month, up 5.0% to 16,303 units (during what is traditionally a smaller volume month ahead of the September plate change).

The market for medium-sized vans drove growth in the month, surging 72.1%, while demand for pickups has also risen, up 163.9%. The debut of a new UK-made hydrogen fuel-cell electric pick-up at Cenex-LCV 2023 this week – developed in a joint project between industry and government – is another example of Britain’s position as a global leader in R&D and collaboration.

It’s true this week that good things come in threes, with the announcement that the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) has awarded some £18.5 million to 13 different projects – involving 43 British companies – as part of the Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility Supply Chain competition. The funding is intended to help UK-based companies to secure early opportunities to develop self-driving technologies, products and services, in order to be ready for the connected and automated mobility market.

The winning projects, detailed in the TNB news section this week, will be delivered in partnership with CCAV’s delivery partners, Zenzic and Innovate UK, bringing together industry and government to support the development of the UK CAM supply chain. Importantly, these projects will help to address some of the UK’s technology gaps, while creating scalable opportunities in the UK and for international markets.

The CV sector is investing at pace to ramp up its production of the latest net zero and automated tech, and such collaboration between all stakeholders is critical to ensuring that we are early entrants to the market. However, it is also essential that Britain guarantees beneficial international trading relationships, particularly with our major export markets such as the EU, if we are to secure a strong global position.

If the sector has more weeks like these, then we can all be confident that UK Automotive will lock in long-term success on the road to zero, bringing with it decarbonisation, economic growth and exciting new jobs up and down the country.


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