car making Juke built at Nissan Sunderland

UK car manufacturing output fell 95.4% in May, compared with the same month last year, with just 5,314 vehicles rolling off production lines, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The performance was a slight improvement on April, when only 197 units were built, but with factories still closed or running at reduced capacity it was the worst May since 1946.

With English car showrooms not reopening until 1 June, only 1,054 models were built for domestic buyers and 4,260 cars were exported in May, most into the EU, the US and China.

In the first five months, UK factories turned out 324,763 cars, representing a decline of 41.7% on the same period in 2019 and a loss of more than 230,000 units. The full year outlook is now expected to be fewer than one million units.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “May’s figures are yet more evidence of why the UK industry, like its global rivals, needs dedicated support to drive a successful restart. Government assistance so far has been vital in keeping many businesses afloat, but the job isn’t done. Measures to boost cashflow, including additional and tailored finance schemes, tax relief and business rates deferral would deliver immediate results when liquidity is most acute.

“We have to retain the highly skilled jobs the sector provides but also ensure the business conditions are competitive so we can unlock the investment that will drive long-term recovery – a green recovery – which is inextricably linked the sector’s success.