Car production increases but industry still faces challenges – SMMT

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The number of cars built in the UK increased last month, but production is still down on pre-pandemic levels, new figures show.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 68,306 cars were built in April, compared with just 197 a year ago when Covid restrictions effectively halted manufacturing.

So far this year, UK factories have turned out 374,864 cars, down by 15% on the same four-month period in 2019.

Compared with a five-year average, production was down 42.9% last month and by almost a third for January to April, said the SMMT.

The trade body said April’s figures also showed the increasing shift towards electrified vehicles, with more than one in five cars being battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid.

In the year to date, alternatively fuelled model production is up by a third on the same period in 2019.

The European Union remains the most important destination for British cars, taking 52% of all exports, followed by the US (17.4%) and China (7.4%), said the SMMT.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “April’s figures were always going to be exceptional as factories were closed at this time last year amid the first wave of the pandemic.

“However, the situation for UK car manufacturers remains challenging, particularly with the worldwide shortage of semiconductors affecting output.

“While it’s good news that the UK is on track with its Covid road map back to normality, we still need strong domestic demand and given we’re export-led, confident overseas markets to drive a recovery, both for the automotive sector and for the wider economy.”

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