British commercial vehicle manufacturing grew 8.5% last year, with nearly 85,000 units leaving production lines. The increase in output follows weaker performances in 2016 and 2017, and low volumes at the beginning of the year. According to the SMMT, domestic demand increased by 17.9% in 2018, with an additional 5,248 CVs built for UK operators.
Exports grew by 2.9% to 50,320 units, with almost six out of every 10 vans, trucks, taxis and buses built in the UK in 2018 exported, 93.6% of those going to the EU and 2.3% destined for Asian markets. December finished 2018 on a high, with commercial vehicle output up 79.2% as production for home and exports experienced significant increases, up 175.6% and 40.1%.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Commercial vehicle production ended 2018 on a very positive note, with strong deals ahead of some important model changes securing significant growth in December resulting in a boost to annual volumes.”
Though he added, “With Europe accounting for more than nine out of every 10 commercial vehicles we export, it is clear that maintaining a beneficial trading relationship with the EU is critical. This means securing a deal that will allow this vital sector to continue to thrive.”
This success follows car manufacturers urging leaders to do whatever it takes to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit, as British car production fell to its lowest level for five years. 1,519,440 new cars left UK factories, a decline of -9.1%, this the second consecutive annual fall as the sector faces multiple challenges. The news comes as SMMT also revealed that inward investment in the sector plummeted in 2018 – down almost half (-46.5%) on 2017 to just £588.6m, amid fears over the UK’s future trading prospects with the EU and other key global markets after 29 March.
A new six-cylinder petrol engine is to go into production at Jaguar Land Rover’s £1 billion plant on the edge of Wolverhampton. It is a second boost for the JLR engine manufacturing centre at the i54 following the recent announcement that it will manufacture new electric drive units there. The company announced in January that it would reduce its global workforce by 4,500 people. The new flagship three-litre engine is part of JLR’s Ingenium series and it will be twin-charged – both electric supercharger and turbocharger. It will be available initially on a new special edition HST model of The Range Rover Sport. It will later be used to power a range of models.
The new 400PS Ingenium in-line six, the development of which was first announced in June last year, will be available in both 265-kilowatt and 294kw versions. It will be made alongside the current four-cylinder petrol and diesel units at the two million sq. ft. EMC where 1,600 are employed.
Nick Rogers, executive director of product engineering for JLR, said: “In-line six-cylinder engines are inherently better balanced than V6 designs and our all-new Ingenium unit builds on that promise to optimise efficiency in all operating conditions.
“Advanced features, including an electric supercharger, ensure distinctive Range Rover Sport performance and responses, while the intelligent MHEV (mild hybrid electric vehicle) system harvests energy to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.” The new engine will power the Range Rover Sport from zero to 62mph in 6.2 seconds and give it a top speed of 140mph. The engine is the latest step JLR has taken towards meeting its commitment of offering an electrified option on all new models from 2020.
The clever system is based around an all-new start-stop system that switches off when stationary and pairs the latest three-litre engine with an electric motor. This allows the system to harvest energy through regenerative braking and store it in a 48-volt battery for later use, such as when pulling away from a standing start.
The new engine has been designed and developed in-house by JLR