Commercial vehicle market hit by eurozone crisis

A motoring industry group claims financial problems elsewhere in Europe are behind a fall in the number of commercial vehicles produced in the UK in February.

Total commercial vehicle production in February was 8,005 - down 17.1% compared to the same month last year, according to statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Countries such as Greece, Italy and Portugal - all key export partners - have found their economies crippled by financial problems and austerity measures.

Despite a 2.6% rise in output for the home market, the substantial decline in export demand dragged the figure into the red. The total amount of commercial vehicles produced in January and February was 15,827 - 18.8% down on the same period last year.

Statistics also show a fall of 0.5% in engine production, with the total amount produced in February standing at 220,466.

The SMMT's interim chief executive Mike Baunton said: "The UK's commercial vehicle makers continue to feel pressures of weak economic conditions in wider Europe, with engines also following suit. However, independent forecasters expect to see more sustained levels through the rest of the year ahead.

"With the Commercial Vehicle Show coming up in April, we have an opportunity to showcase the very best in new technology, environmental performance and safety of these vehicles which are so crucial to the UK economy."

There was better news when examining the overall figures for car production in the UK. In total 137,458 cars were made in February - 0.7% down on the same month last year. However the group was keen to point out that February's amount is measured against a figure which itself was a huge 26% up on that of February 2011.

Car production for the first two months of this year is up 0.2% at 266,507.

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