Increase in UK car production ’cause for optimism’, says trade group

The number of cars built in the first three months of the year increased by 6%, new figures show.

Production totalled 219,887, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The trade group said the global shortage of semiconductors and other components had started to ease, so factories produced 12,540 more cars than the same quarter last year, driven by exports which increased 6.6% and represented almost eight in 10 cars made.

Around two-thirds of exported cars went to the EU, with shipments increasing by 4.9%, while those to the next biggest markets, the US and China declined by 4.1% and -8.3% respectively.

Exports to Turkey, Japan, Australia and South Korea all rose.

The SMMT said British car makers continued to manufacture the latest hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, with combined volumes of these models increasing by 75% in March compared to a year ago, to 32,546.

Two in five cars built in the month featured ultra-low or zero emission powertrain technology.

The SMMT predicted that this trend was set to continue, with more than 20 models of electric cars, vans, buses, trucks and taxis expected to be in production in the UK by 2025.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “A second consecutive month of growth for UK car production gives cause for optimism, though volumes are still well below pre-pandemic levels.

“If British car manufacturing is to get back towards those levels, with all the economic benefits that brings, we need to match the best in global competitiveness.

“That means driving down the high cost of UK energy, reforming business rates and vigorously promoting Britain globally to secure the investments essential to a zero-carbon automotive future.”