UK car production fell by a fifth during January – the worst figure recorded for the month since 2009, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has said.
Across the four weeks, just under 69,000 vehicles were assembled at plants up and down the country – 17,262 fewer units compared to January 2021, according to the latest set of industry figures.
The SMMT blamed the poor performance on “friction in the new post-Brexit trading arrangements”, “extended shutdowns” and restrictions that remained in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It also pointed to the long-running issues surrounding the supply of semi-conductors, the loss of the Honda Swindon plant last summer, and “production variations caused by the changeover of some popular models”.
Amidst the gloom, electric vehicle production numbers remained positively strong; they now account for one in every 11 cars made in the UK. Numbers rose 37.6% to 6,326 in January – a total that includes plug-in hybrids and mild hybrids.
commenting on the figures, Mike Hawes – the SMMT Chief Executive – said: “It’s another torrid start to the year as global supply issues and structural changes squeeze output while model changes impact production scheduling.
“The UK automotive manufacturing industry is, however, fundamentally strong and recent investment announcements are testament to the potential for growth, not least in terms of rising EV production.
“Long-term recovery can only be delivered, however, if global competitiveness is assured and for that we must address both inflationary and fixed costs, most obviously escalating energy prices, but also fiscal and trading costs. “
Mr Hawes reiterated the need for the British government to pull out the stops to build on the recent success of EV sales, adding: “Every measure must be taken if we are to secure a bright, electrified future for our world-class automotive manufacturing base and the high skilled, high value jobs it creates across Britain.”