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British commercial vehicle production rose 27.6% in April for the fourth consecutive month, delivering its best performance since 2016, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

However SMMT called on the government to take action to help support the industry as the pressure from supply chain delays and “soaring” energy costs continue to mount.

According to the latest figures published by the SMMT, a total of 7,879 working vehicles, including vans, trucks, taxis, buses and coaches, left production lines in the period.

The figure was boosted by the pre-planned ramp up of certain key models following Covid-related reductions, SMMT said.

Growth was largely driven by a 58.0% increase in the number of vehicles built for export, with 4,723 units heading overseas.

However production for the UK dipped to 3,156 units, down by just 32 units (-1.0%) year on year, SMMT added.

Meanwhile, the percentage of exports increased from 48.4% in April 2021, to 59.9%. Over the year to date, more than half (57.1%) of CVs produced have been exported, with more than nine in 10 of them (92.4%) destined for the EU.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Thanks to significant demand from overseas markets, our CV output has not only increased on last year, but has surpassed even pre-pandemic levels.

“This is testament to the resilience of manufacturers and evidence of the role the sector can play in the UK’s long-term economic recovery.

“There remain, however, significant challenges behind these headline figures, with the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors and the war in Ukraine impacting the global industry.

“Most pressing, however, are the soaring energy costs and rampant inflation, and Government must act urgently if we are to secure the future competitiveness of this critical sector and the jobs and livelihoods it supports.”