Annual studies of the automotive market’s trajectory in 2017 are beginning to emerge, and the latest offering from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) paint a problematic picture of the UK’s performance compared with its continental contemporaries.
Transport Engineer reports that there were dips in registrations for both heavy trucks and light commercial vehicles across Britain last year, while growth elsewhere in Europe is seen as reflecting the economically precarious position that the UK occupies at the moment.
Reductions in Demand, says ACEA
HGV sales are thought to have fallen by 7.9 per cent over the course of 2017, which is a bigger hit than the 3.6 per cent drop in LCV registrations during the same period.
Bus and coach sales took an even bigger hit, declining by 18.8 per cent according to the figures published this month.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a marked reduction in demand for commercial vehicles of all sizes in December, which was not just a bad month for the UK but for the rest of Europe as well.
Unfortunately, there were average increases in CV registrations found when the continent was taken as a whole, with growth of 3.2 per cent achieved.
A weakening of demand for trucks, vans and buses in Britain is echoed by the 16.7 per cent shrinkage of the CV manufacturing output for the country seen in 2017 and identified in this ACEA study.
The number of vehicles exported to other countries dropped by 10.8 per cent, while demand for domestically manufactured trucks was curtailed by a quarter when compared with 2016.
The Government & Brexit’s Industry Effect
All eyes are on the government as it continues to navigate the Brexit negotiation process, with industry bodies and representatives all calling for no major shake-up in the way that automotive imports and exports are handled to avoid serious disruption in the near future.
Many have said that if the UK’s membership of the single market and customs union is not maintained, it may be very hard for domestic manufacturers to compete with their overseas equivalents. Meanwhile, truck and van registrations will fall further if the uncertainty persists and could go into freefall if the final deal is especially unfavourable.
Earlier figures issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders are aligned with the findings of the ACEA, which is why their implications are worth taking seriously.
The vast majority of the vehicles manufactured in the UK which are then exported overseas are destined for sale within other member states of the EU, and automakers are hoping that this will remain the case after Brexit.
Meanwhile, businesses looking to buy HGVs and other commercial vehicles in the UK will want to have just as much choice as they do at the moment as well as adequate competition to keep prices low. If importing becomes more costly due to the faltering pound, buying used trucks rather than picking new models may become more desirable.
Whatever the case, evidence of more instability and uncertainty to come is mounting as reports pour in.