New car production increased again after stuttering in September, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The data shows output was up by 7.4 percent compared with the same month in 2021, with almost 70,000 cars produced by UK factories.

The rise followed a fall in September, which in turn followed four consecutive months of growth. According to the SMMT, the up-and-down nature of the figures illustrates the effects of “supply chain turbulence”, and in particular global chip shortages, on the UK car industry.

The figures show growth in production was partly fuelled by demand from the UK, with the number of cars built for domestic customers rising by 12.5 percent to top 13,000 units. However, exports account for around eight in every 10 cars built in the UK, and a 6.3-percent uplift in the number of cars built for foreign customers resulted in an increase of more than 3,000 units.

Bentley resumes production in Crewe

So far in 2022, however, the story has been slightly different. The strong months have been interspersed with weak performances as supply chain issues bite, and the market overall is down by 10.8 percent compared with the first 10 months of 2021.

That’s despite an 8.8-percent uplift in the number of vehicles built in the UK for UK customers, with almost 136,000 British-built cars finding homes on these shores between the beginning of January and the end of October. However, the export market has been less successful, with production down by 14.9 percent and just over half a million cars exported.

MINI Electric at Plant Oxford

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said the figures should be viewed in context alongside pre-pandemic figures, when output was much higher. He said the industry would “urgently” need “more favourable conditions for investment” if it is to flourish in 2023.

“A return to growth for UK car production in October is welcome,” he said, “though output is still down significantly on pre-Covid levels amid turbulent component supply. Getting the sector back on track in 2023 is a priority, given the jobs, exports and economic contribution the automotive industry sustains."

"UK car makers are doing all they can to ramp up production of the latest electrified vehicles, and help deliver net-zero, but more favourable conditions for investment are needed and needed urgently – especially in affordable and sustainable energy and availability of talent – as part of a supportive framework for automotive manufacturing.”