The number of new cars produced in UK factories fell by more than 11 percent last month, according to new figures released this week. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows an 11.3 percent drop in output last month compared with the same period last year.
A total of 60,554 new cars rolled off UK production lines last month, down from 68,306 in April 2021. It’s a reduction the SMMT has blamed on “global pressures” including the worldwide semiconductor shortage and the impact of the war in Ukraine on global supply chains. However, the closure of Honda’s factory in Swindon has also impacted year-on-year comparisons.
As a result of those factors, the number of cars built in Britain for customers abroad fell from more than 60,000 in April 2021 to under 48,000 last month. That 20.8-percent reduction cancelled out a 60.1 percent uplift in the number of cars produced for domestic customers, but with exports accounting for around eight in every 10 new cars built on these shores, that wasn’t enough to see overall production increase.
It’s also worth noting that the UK was still in the grip of lockdown during the first half of April 2021, and last month’s output was down 14.7 percent compared with the same month in pre-pandemic 2019.
In more positive news, the figures also revealed 26.4 percent of all cars built in the UK had some form of electrification, in the shape of hybrid power or fully electric powertrains. Just under a tenth (9.9 percent) of all the vehicles produced were fully electric – a 38.2-percent uplift compared with the same month in 2021.
Over the first four months of 2022, more than a quarter of a million new cars have been produced in the UK, but that figure is down 28.5 percent compared with the same period in 2021. Much of the reduction is due to a drop in the number of vehicles built for foreign customers, although exports still account for 79 percent of all new cars produced in the UK so far this year.
“The UK car industry is exposed to a host of issues that are undermining output and competitiveness,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Global chip shortages and supply chain disruption are exacerbated by spiralling energy costs, additional trading costs and slowing global markets. The foundations of the sector are strong and the transition to zero and ultra-low emission vehicles continues apace but we need more policies and measures that support manufacturing and encourage investment into the UK at this most challenging of times.”