UK commercial vehicle production for the domestic market returned to growth in February this year, following five months of decline, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Output rose by 14.6% in the period, with 3,279 vans, trucks and buses built for UK operators.

In contrast, production for export fell by 26.2% in the month with 1,670 fewer units shipped overseas, which SMMT said was due to slower demand in key European markets.

Overall UK commercial vehicle production levels declined by 13.6% in February, with 7,980 vans, trucks and buses manufactured.

These latest figures come amid widespread plant closures across the UK as manufacturers respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

SMMT said that while commercial vehicle production in the UK is largely expected to be on shutdown for the coming month, the sector is continuing to provide component production and maintenance services for essential transport, delivery and emergency service vehicles.

Announcing the latest figures on commercial vehicle production, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, called on the government to help speed up emergency finance measures to counteract the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

“The UK’s commercial vehicle sector is critical to the fight against coronavirus, working night and day to deliver food, medicine and other essential goods and services to support society’s most vulnerable and help prop up the economy.

“Government’s pledge of emergency finance and other measures to help protect these businesses and workers during the crisis has been widely welcomed but it is now about getting that relief to all companies in the fastest time possible. Meanwhile, additional provisions for official road-approval testing to get even more essential vehicles in service and supporting the national effort must also be implemented urgently.”