Stellantis announced to its employees and union today the restarting of the third, night production shift in its Luton plant in June 2021 in order to satisfy increased demand for the Vauxhall and Opel Vivaro, Citroën Jumpy/Dispatch and Peugeot Expert light commercial vehicles.
For this shift, a training period is necessary so the first people recruited will arrive on the site in May.
The news came as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the UK light commercial vehicle market recorded its busiest ever April as 30,440 new vans were registered.
All vehicle segments saw artificially inflated growth rates relative to April 2020, when COVID restrictions shut down much of the economy, with an eight-fold increase in total units. Registrations were also well ahead of the five-year average, with April 2021 up by 23.2%. With 127,796 vans registered so far in 2021, uptake levels have returned to levels last seen in 2019.
Growth was primarily driven by a sustained increase in larger van acquisition with models weighing more than 2.5-3.5 tonnes accounting for 20,037 registrations. So far in 2021, heavy van registrations have almost doubled compared to the same period in 2020, up to 84,374 compared with 42,749 recorded in the first four months of last year. As a result, SMMT's latest outlook for the sector forecasts that around 369,000 vans will be registered in 2021.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Businesses are investing in new vehicles as they grow in confidence, driven by a more positive economic outlook stimulated by the vaccine rollout. There has been particular uplift in larger van uptake, both from established demand in home delivery, but also more broadly as other sectors emerge from lockdown looking to maximise their payload efficiency. With a fragile supply chain still subject to risk of disruption and ongoing COVID restrictions, there is some way to go before we can say business is back to normal, but after a very difficult year, the outlook is much brighter."