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Flying the flag for UK-made products

Published to the CV Show website on

One of SMMT’s key missions is to promote highlight British manufacturing at home and abroad, one made much easier given the number of commercial vehicles made in the UK continues to grow significantly, almost doubling in February compared with last year as 12,927 vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches left factory lines. The uplift was 98.4% to be exact which, while in comparison with a particularly weak February last year due to supply chain problems, it represents the best February performance since 2008.

The gradual increase in zero emission vehicle production in Ellesmere Port has played an important role but growth can be seen across the whole sector, and with news that medium-sized electric vans will also enter production in Luton next Spring, we’ll be another step closer to our long-term goal of producing more zero emission than internal combustion engine models.

The increase in production across the sector is for export markets, with overseas deliveries up by a whopping 188.0% to 10,011 units – meaning more than two thirds of all CVs made in the month went abroad. Nine in ten exports went to the EU, meanwhile, and the need for policymakers to prioritise seamless trade with Europe is as important as ever to the sector and our industrial competitiveness.

In other positive news, local transport authorities (LTAs) found out whether they were successful in their bids for zero emission buses and associated infrastructure, as part of the second round of the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) fund. Some 25 regions will be awarded £142.8m to fund up to 955 buses, however, the timetable for delivery is very tight as vehicle orders must be placed by the end of next January – and rolled out within two years. The planning required for such a transition cannot be underestimated, particularly for more financially challenged LTAs.

Given a new survey from the Local Government Association shows six in 10 councils are put off bidding for net zero funding due to the time and resources needed, such scheme must be streamlined as much as possible so that all UK regions have the chance to benefit from decarbonisation – and especially from greener public transport, where there are so many advantages for local communities. Transport News Brief will go into more detail on ZEBRA next week.

Skills are a huge part of the competitiveness story too and government’s new package of reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy is a big positive, helping SMEs across the commercial vehicle sector and its supply chain to deliver apprenticeship places. As part of the plans, government will pay the full cost that’s assigned to an apprenticeship standard for anyone up to the age of 21 – reducing costs for businesses and helping young people kick start their career.

How industry can attract and recruit a new wave of Gen Z employees is one of the key topics discussed at the Road Ahead Theatre on the final day of the Commercial Vehicle Show, which takes place from 23-25 April. Tickets are still available and can be booked here. In the meantime, have a good Easter.


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