UK car production suffers worst October since 1956

Car production in the UK fell by 41.4% in October as manufacturers continued to feel the strain caused by the semiconductor crisis and other supply issues, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has announced.

Factories produced 64,729 cars, representing the fourth consecutive month of decline and the weakest October figure since 1956. Year-to-date output dropped by 2.9% to 721,505. 

Numbers dropped due to production stoppages caused by the on-going shortage of chips and were exacerbated by the permanent closure of Honda’s Swindon plant in July, the SMMT said, noting that the deficit could impact figures for a year. 

However, the uptake of electrified cars remained healthy, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and hybrids (HEV) comprising 30% of October production.

Production of zero-emissions models reached 50,000 for the year so far – more than the 43,790-unit figure achieved in 2019, as manufacturing of EVs rose by 17.5% to 8454 units. 

“These figures are extremely worrying and show how badly the global semiconductor shortage is hitting UK car manufacturers and their suppliers,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“Britain’s automotive sector is resilient, but with Covid resurgent across some of our largest markets and global supply chains stretched and even breaking, the immediate challenges in keeping the industry operational are immense.”  

The SMMT suggests the UK government can support the industry with measures to raise competitiveness with global rivals, in “tackling high energy costs, supporting employment and training and helping businesses whose cashflow is under pressure from these historically poor production numbers.”


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