UK car production fell by 27.3 per cent in January to just 86,052 units, according to figures released today (Feb 26) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Representing a fall of 32,262 units on 2020’s figure, it’s the worst January performance since 2009 and continues a 17th consecutive month of decline. Car building has continued to be affected by multiple factors including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, global supply chain issues and extended factory shutdowns. The SMMT also cites the ‘friction in new trading arrangements’ post-Brexit as another way output has been affected.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Yet another month of decline for UK car production is a grave concern and next week’s Budget is the Chancellor’s opportunity to boost the industry by introducing measures that will support competitiveness, jobs and livelihoods.
“Whilst there have been some very welcome recent announcements, we need to secure our medium to long-term future by creating the conditions that will attract battery gigafactory investment and transform the supply chain.”
Production for both home and overseas markets was down – falling to 16,692 and 69,360 units respectively – and while exports still accounted for more than eight in 10 of all cars made during the month, shipments to key markets such as the EU, US and Asia still experienced double-digit decline.
In contrast, UK production of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles continued to grow with the combined output of these vehicles surging by 18.9 per cent in January to 21,792 units. As a result of this, more than one in four of all cars rolling off the production line in the UK was alternatively fuelled.
The automotive sector has now accumulated £11.3bn in lost car production since March 2020. Hawes stated that the re-opening of car dealerships was crucial if the sector was to bounce back from its continued decline, adding “we must get our Covid-secure car showrooms back open, ideally before 12 April. This will be the fastest way to UK automotive manufacturing recovery.”