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UK car production falls 20.1% in worst January since 2009

LUC 3270 1600x1067 c153bf0f 1eaf 4431 bf9b 74379e488f6c

The UK produced 68,790 cars in January – down 17,262 units compared with this time last year

Car production in the UK fell by 20.1% year on year in January, marking the worst start to a year since 2009, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. 

The UK produced 68,790 cars in January – 17,262 fewer than in the same month in 2021. Last year’s figure was also one of the worst Januarys recorded due to post-Brexit trading regulations, the Covid-19 pandemic and extended shutdowns. 

The SMMT has suggested that the main factors contributing to the loss in volume included the ongoing worldwide shortage of semiconductors, a major plant closure in July last year and variations in production caused by the change-over of popular models. 

However, electrified vehicle uptake once again looked positive. The UK produced 6326 battery-electric models in January, up 37.6% and accounting for one in every 11 cars made. With mild- and plug-in hybrid models included, electrified cars formed a quarter of the UK’s total output. 

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes 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.”

The SMMT said production for overseas markets dropped by 17.5% and domestic production fell by 30.8%. The trade body claimed recovery can be achieved if inflationary costs are addressed. 

Hawes said: “Long-term recovery can only be delivered 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.

“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.”

The SMMT has also said expectations for 2022 should be adjusted. It has revised production outlooks down by 2.4% to 979,000 total units, which is still a 14.4% rise on 2021’s final figure.