UK car production rises for first time in almost a year but figures still behind pre-pandemic levels

Production was up by 13.3 per cent in May.

Nissan to end night shift
Nissan to end night shift

More than 62,000 vehicles were produced in the UK in May, representing the first month of growth for almost a year.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today (Jun 30) showcase a rise of 13.3 per cent, with 62,284 cars rolling off the production lines.

However, the SMMT has highlighted that the figures ‘must be viewed in context against May 2021’ which was still dealing with pandemic-related closures and delays. Output remains 46.3 per cent behind the same month in pre-pandemic 2019, with a number of issues including supply chain disruption and increasing economic uncertainty cited by the SMMT.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “May’s return to growth for UK car output is hugely welcome after 10 months of decline, indicating the sector’s fundamental resilience. Any recovery, however, will be gradual as supply chain deliveries remain erratic, business costs volatile and geopolitical instability still very real.”

Production for both overseas and domestic markets increased during the month by 8.9 and 39.5 per cent respectively, while exports accounted for 82.1 per cent of all new cars built with close to six in ten of them heading to the EU. Shipments to the US, meanwhile, fell by 35.4 per cent.

There was, however, an increase in the production of electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). EV production rose by 108.3 per cent during the month, while one-in-five of all the cars built during May were alternatively fuelled.

In the year to date, overall output has fallen by more than a fifth, with supply chain constraints continuing to hamper attempts at growth. Up to this point, 330,185 units have been produced, representing a shortfall of 99,641.

Hawes added: “With the industry racing to decarbonise, we need to safeguard manufacturing competitiveness, drive investment and develop the skill base. Government and industry have a role to play in this transformation and collaboration will be essential if the UK is to remain at the forefront of automotive innovation.”

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