UK demand for new commercial vehicles fell by 4.4%, compared to general European growth of 3.2% over 2016, according to trade association ACEA. A total of 420,000 CVs were registered in 2017. The decline was across both large and small vehicles. Estimated registrations for new heavy commercial vehicles declined by 7.9%, medium and heavy by 7.1%. Light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes fell by 3.6%. New medium and heavy bus and coach registrations (also estimated) fell by 18.8%.
December was a particularly bad month for CV sales. UK declines for medium and heavy bus and coach and medium and large trucks were all greater than 20% year on year (although LCV sales rose by 3%). That was against a European background of dropping sales in all segments.
In addition, British commercial vehicle manufacturing declined by 16.7% in 2017 as 78,219 vans, trucks, buses and coaches left production lines, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Domestic demand fell to its lowest since 2009, down 25.0% Meanwhile, 48,899 CVs were produced for overseas markets, representing a fall of 10.8%. However, exports accounted for 62.5% of overall UK production – up from 58.4% in 2016 – the largest proportion in eight years.
SMMT said that the decline reflects a fall in business confidence and fluctuating buying cycles, which are a natural feature of the market.
However, it added that the UK Automotive industry restated the need for an urgent agreement on the terms of a post-Brexit transition deal. It said: “This must be comprehensive, result in no change and allow business to continue as usual until a new trading relationship with the EU is in place. This means maintaining the UK’s membership of the single market and customs union and addressing critical details that, if ignored, could have a damaging effect on the industry’s competitiveness.”
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “More than nine out of every 10 vehicles we export are produced for EU customers, underscoring the need for urgent clarity on the transitional arrangements for Brexit.”