UK car production down 41.4% in October

Weakest October production figures since 1956, with a mere 64,729 cars being built in the UK during the month

Production line

Car manufacturing in the UK fell 41.4 per cent year-on-year in October 2021, with just 64,729 vehicles rolling off production lines, making for the worst October for the industry since 1956.

The continuing global semiconductor shortage was the main cause, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), adding that this was compounded by the closure of Honda’s factory in Swindon at the end of July.

Production for domestic and overseas markets was down 37.9 per cent and 42.1 per cent respectively. Eight in 10 cars built in the UK in October were shipped abroad, with 60 per cent of these heading to EU countries. Shipments to the EU fell 29.2 per cent during the month, with the number of cars sent to Japan and the US down 57.1 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

The good news is that electric, plug-in hybrid and conventional hybrid cars comprised 30.9 per cent of all cars built in the UK throughout October, with EV manufacturing alone rising 17.5 per cent year-on-year to 8,454 units. So far this year, British manufacturers have built more than 50,000 zero-emission vehicles, exceeding the total built in the whole of 2019 despite the impacts of Covid and the semiconductor shortage,

Year-to-date production output is still below that of Covid-hit 2020 though, falling 2.9 per cent to 721,505 units.

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

“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.

“Government can help the industry with measures to boost competitiveness in line with global rivals, notably 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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