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UK commercial vehicle manufacturing output fell for the fifth month in a row, down by 45.4% in February, as supply chain shortages, new customs processes and prolonged global lockdown measures hit output - resulting in the worst February on record.

The decline saw 4,308 units built, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Vehicles built for domestic output fell 36.8% in the month whilst vehicles built for export saw a much sharper drop, down by 51.3%, with the decline driven to new lows by parts shortages, such as semi-conductors, lockdowns and friction surrounding new trading arrangements.

Despite the challenges, exports continue to make up more than half (52.5%) of all commercial vehicles built in the UK.

Performance year to date has decreased by 38.3%, with a shortfall of 6,155 vehicles compared to this time last year, as only 9,924 vans, trucks and buses were built in the first months of 2021.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “A fifth consecutive month of decline for UK commercial vehicle production is grim news, but expected given the challenges the automotive sector is facing.

“As the country reflects on a full year grappling with the pandemic, commercial vehicles have continued to provide a lifeline for myriad essential services and sectors, and with the UK coming out of lockdown soon, they will play a key role getting the country back up to speed.

“We now need to ensure these critical vehicles continue to be made in Britain, which means implementing measures to assure our global manufacturing competitiveness with investment in skills, training and a supportive business environment.”