The first six months of the year were particularly positive for the UK’s home-grown HGV manufacturing industry, with a healthy 11.6 per cent rise in the number of trucks being exported for sale overseas.
This is according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders which indicate that most of the trucks and vans which are constructed domestically end up being exported to customers in other countries.
EU nations are by far the biggest buyers of British-built trucks, with 95 per cent of the models exported so far in 2017 ending up in a member state. When it comes to vans, this proportion is a little more modest at 62.9 per cent.
Outside of the EU and other non-member countries within Europe itself, Asia was the next biggest investor in British commercial vehicles. In particular, it was strong demand for buses that helped export levels rise to this part of the world.
North American exports also focused on buses rather than on trucks, as there are very different expectations surrounding HGVs on the other side of the pond.
British buses may be popular in some parts of the world, but the biggest-selling models to other parts of the world tend to fall into the rigid-bodied two-axle category. Articulated trucks are far less commonly sold overseas, and interestingly not a single van made in the UK was sold outside of the EU.
One of the reasons that Europe remains crucial to the UK’s truck manufacturing sector is that it is not only easier to export and sell products to other parts of the continent but also to import the components, materials and talent in order to bring projects to fruition in the first place.
Experts argue that if this state of affairs changes in the future, chiefly as a result of the Brexit negotiations being carried out at the moment, then there could be real problems, and it may be tough for manufacturers to maintain the current momentum that they have gathered in recent years.
Report spokesperson Mike Hawes explained that cementing a firm, stable and beneficial relationship with the rest of Europe when it comes to trade will be essential going forward, since without the right approach the British-based manufacturers will not be able to compete as effectively with their continental counterparts.
He argued that the government should be working towards the creation of an agreement which keeps the UK in the Single Market and does not sever any of its trade ties, at least until a solid plan for Brexit and the future of the country can be formulated. Without this, even the likelihood of instability looming in the future will impact buyer confidence today and exports could take a hit.
Imports are not uncommon in the UK itself, but with such a variety of domestically manufactured HGVs available, there is not always the need for fleet operators to look elsewhere for their next truck, especially as the used market is also very vibrant.