Another fall in car production amid continued impact of virus crisis

Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent
·2-min read

The number of cars built in the UK has fallen for the 18th month in a row, showing the ongoing impact of the coronavirus crisis on the industry, figures show.

Production fell by 14% in February compared with the same month a year ago, with 105,008 cars leaving factory gates, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It was the weakest February performance in more than a decade, fuelled by the pandemic that led to showrooms closing, new customs processes and global supply chain constraints.

Production for the domestic market fell by 34.9%, and by 8.1% for exports, said the SMMT.

Overseas orders accounted for more than four out of five cars made last month, with most of these heading into the EU.

Recent strong growth in UK output of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid vehicles (HEV) continued in February, with total production of these vehicles increasing by a quarter to 23,019 units.

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The SMMT said the figures come against a backdrop of car showrooms being closed for months, issues with supply of some components, and the UK’s new trading arrangements, which were all putting additional burdens on operations.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said:  “A year into the pandemic, these figures are yet more evidence of how badly coronavirus has hit UK car production.

“Thankfully, there are some rays of light with UK showrooms due to reopen on April 12, vaccinations progressing and a roadmap to kick-start the economy.

“The automotive sector can play a crucial role in getting the UK back on its feet, supporting jobs across the country, driving growth and helping the country transition to zero emission mobility.”

The latest forecasts are for car production to reach 1.05 million this year, up 15.8% on the year before, hitting 1.1 million in 2022.