FT Car Manufacturing

Production of alternatively fuelled cars in the UK reached record levels last month, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

More than a quarter (26.0%) of all cars made in July were either battery electric (BEV), plug in hybrid (PHEV) or hybrid electric (HEV), their highest share on record, and meaning that UK car factories have turned out 126,757 of them since the start of the year.

Overall, however, UK car manufacturing output fell 37.6% in July, the first fall since February, with just 53,438 units made.

It represented the worst July performance since 1956 as manufacturers grappled with the global shortage of semiconductors and staff absence resulting from the ‘pingdemic’, with some altering summer shutdown timings to help manage the situation.

In July production for the UK market declined 38.7% to 8,233 while manufacturing for export also fell, down 37.4% with 45,205 cars shipped overseas. Exports accounted for more than eight out of 10 (84.6%) vehicles built in the month.

Production overall remains up 18.3% on Covid-hit 2020 at 552,361 units, but this is down significantly (-28.7%) on 2019 pre-pandemic levels when 774,760 cars were produced.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “These figures lay bare the extremely tough conditions UK car manufacturers continue to face. While the impact of the ‘pingdemic’ will lessen as self-isolation rules change, the worldwide shortage of semiconductors shows little sign of abating.

“The UK automotive industry is doing what it can to keep production lines going, testament to the adaptability of its workforce and manufacturing processes, but Government can help by continuing the supportive Covid measures currently in place and boosting our competitiveness with a reduction in energy levies and business rates for a sector that is strategically important in delivering net zero.”