UK car production in 2021 fell -6.7% to 859,575 units, worst total since 1956, according to figures from the SMMT
Output was 61,353 less than 2020, which itself was badly affected by coronavirus lockdowns, and -34.0% below pre-pandemic 2019.2
UK electrified vehicle output rose 29.6% to more than a quarter of production. Battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), accounted for 224,011 units, representing 26.1% of all cars made.
According to the SMMT, the shortage of semiconductors was the prime reason for the fall in production but staff shortages due to Covid and car dealer showroom closures also played a part. The closure of the Honda plant in Swindon accounted for a quarter of the downturn.
More positively, the shift to electrified vehicle manufacture continued apace as BEV production surged 72.0%, while hybrids rose 16.4%, as the UK industry – like the market – transforms into a low and, ultimately, zero-carbon industry.
Global exports continued to be the foundation for UK car manufacturing, with some eight-in-ten cars made being shipped overseas.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “2021 was another incredibly difficult year for UK car manufacturing, one of the worst since the Second World War which lays bare the exposure of the sector to structural and, especially, Covid-related impacts.”
The latest independent production outlook for 2022 forecasts UK car production to increase to more than one million units, representing a 19.7% uplift on the 2021 total, despite the loss of production in Swindon.
“With favourable conditions, including an end to the global chip shortage, new models coming on stream and the avoidance of additional trade barriers, car production could continue to climb and reach 1.1 million in 2025, with further growth beyond.