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  • Mark Salisbury

SMMT looks ahead to the year in road transport

Updated: May 11, 2023

This year is set to be another eventful one for the road transport sector, with many developments affecting the industry in the areas of Brexit, electric vehicle production and vehicle charging.

Here, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) highlights some of the key things to look out for during 2022.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES Commercial electric vehicle production in the UK is set to increase in 2022 as the delivery sector transitions to new technologies and Tevva, Arrival and Volta Truck enter the market.

Stellantis is investing £100million in its Ellesmere Port manufacturing plant to transform the site to build the electric Vauxhall Combo-e, Opel Combo-e, Peugeot e-Partner and Citroën e-Berlingo vans.

The site, which has been making the Astra, will soon feature a new body shop, upgraded general assembly, a compression of the site area and new on-site battery pack assembly area.

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said, “This is a major boost for the plant, the workforce and the region which has been operating under uncertainty for a number of years.

“The positive decision is testament to the commitment of everyone involved but also underscores the importance of securing a deal with the EU, without which local competitiveness would have been undermined.

“Maintaining the UK as an attractive destination for investment is a constant process and government and industry must continue to work together to avoid unnecessary costs.”

SEMICONDUCTOR CHIP SHORTAGE The global shortage of semiconductor chips continued to hit production in 2021 with UK commercial vehicle production falling to 7,940 units in November, a decline of -7.8% and the weakest November performance since 2017.

The issue is expected to continue into 2022, though many manufacturers have now signed deals with large electronics companies to ensure a steady supply of semiconductors into the future.

This shortage came initially from increased demand for personal computers, tablets and smartphones during Covid-19 lockdowns, but now encompasses closures at semiconductor factories and international shipping ports due to Coronavirus.

Hawes said: “The impact of the global shortage of semiconductors cannot be overstated, and coupled with increasing uncertainty over the pandemic, the months ahead will be difficult.

“However, the UK’s automotive manufacturers are resilient and will continue to do all they can to keep factory lines operational over the coming months enabling the latest and cleanest CVs to enter UK roads.”

SKILLS The UK is currently suffering from an estimated deficit of up to 65,000 truck drivers and the government is expected to invest another £34m in its HGV Driving Skills Bootcamps to tackle the problem.

These bootcamps are free, flexible, intensive courses of up to 16 weeks designed to train drivers to be road ready and gain their licence.

The courses are available now in locations across the country and also support existing drivers to refresh or upgrade their skills so that they can get back on the road.

People who successfully complete the HGV courses are guaranteed a job interview with an employer, and the first drivers are expected to be on the road from March 2022.

This year is also expected to see dealer groups, transport operators and manufacturers step up their training of technicians for the next generation of vans, trucks and buses including electric, hydrogen and other zero-emission engine technologies.

CHARGING NETWORK 2022 will see further investments in public charging, with the government allocating £950m to rapid and ultra-rapid charge points, £620m for zero-emission vehicle grants and infrastructure, and a commitment that all new build homes will include an EV charging point.

However, SMMT believes this funding, which forms part of the government’s Rapid Charging Fund and Net Zero Strategy, is insufficient to keep up with the pace of consumer demand and targets for accelerated market transition.

At the end of 2019, 11 plug-in vehicles potentially shared a standard public chargepoint, whereas by the end of 2020, the ratio had fallen to one charger for every 16 plug-ins. Meanwhile, in 2021, electric van uptake more than doubled to reach more than 3% of market share.

SMMT wants the government to take regulatory action in 2022 with binding targets for chargepoint delivery that match those of vehicle manufacturers, to ensure installation rates accelerate.

Hawes said: “Those who can’t have their own home charge point need the confidence that they can still charge as conveniently as they can refuel.

“Recent Government funding for infrastructure was welcome but more private sector investment in public charge points is needed across the country.

“The UK therefore needs a framework of regulation that makes it easier to fund, build and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”

BREXIT For those transport companies operating in Europe, exports between Great Britain and the EU have been subject to full customs controls from 1 January 2022.

This means that goods must be presented to customs and export declarations entered into HMRC systems to decide whether any further physical checks are required.

If a physical examination is required, this will be conducted at an Inland Border Facility or at the designated customs checking facility within the frontier locations. Goods must not be exported without permission and a message must be sent after their departure.

To support full customs controls on goods, particularly those locations with limited space or infrastructure, the government has introduced the goods vehicle movement service (GVMS).

DEALERSHIPS The ability of many commercial vehicle dealers to meet the needs of online buyers has increased greatly due to the conditions under which they have been forced to trade during the pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, some in the EV car market such as Polestar have introduced an online buying process for the purchase of new vehicles. It will be interesting to see whether dealer groups increasingly adopt this approach over the coming year.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SHOW The CV Show returns to its traditional spring date this year from 24-26 May at the NEC in Birmingham, with all the latest vehicles, trailers, equipment and technology on display.

This year’s show will be unmissable for thousands of fleet owners, directors, senior managers, engineers and any business that runs commercial vehicles.

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