A leading UK car industry body says the sector is “on the road to recovery” after new figures showed an increase in car production last month. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed an increase in output of more than 13 percent compared with the same month last year.

In total, almost 70,000 new cars rolled off UK production lines in February, up from fewer than 62,000 in February 2022. The SMMT has put that 13.1-percent uplift down to the easing of the global chip shortage, which has been stunting production since the early part of 2021.

Last month, however, factories were buoyed by increased demand both domestically and internationally, with the number of vehicles built for the UK market up by more than 20 percent. In total, however, the home market accounted for just over 13,000 vehicles in February, or roughly a fifth of the market overall.

Nissan Juke production at Sunderland UK plant

International demand therefore has a much larger impact on the car industry, and strong demand from European customers helped international demand rise by 11.5 percent, with more than 56,000 new cars heading to customers abroad. A 6.5-percent increase in demand from the UK’s largest trading partner, the European Union, offset declines in demand from the US (down 19.9 percent) and China (down 21.6 percent).

The industry was also aided by increased exports to Turkey, Japan, Australia and South Korea, which collectively saw demand increase by 85 percent. However, they still accounted for just 11.5 percent of all exports, while the European Union accounted for 59.6 percent of all the new cars exported.

While UK manufacturers enjoyed rising demand across the board, the sector also built more hybrid and electric vehicles, with combined volumes up 72.2 percent in February. Whereas in February 2022, just under 16,000 such cars were built in the UK, that figure rose to well over 27,000 last month. Now, electric and hybrid cars together make up two in every five (39.3 percent) of the cars built on these shores.

“February’s growth in UK car production signposts an industry on the road to recovery,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “The fundamentals of the sector are strong, with a highly skilled workforce, engineering excellence, a sector that is embracing new electrified vehicle manufacturing and wide ranging capabilities in the EV supply chain. To take advantage of global opportunities, however, we must scale up at pace and make the UK the most attractive destination for automotive investment by addressing trading and fiscal costs and delivering low carbon, affordable energy.”

Nissan LEAF production in Sunderland, UK