According to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), overall UK car production fell 20.1 percent to 68,790 units during January 2022. This resulted in the weakest January total since 2009.
It’s not all grim news with battery electric vehicle (BEV) production increasing by an impressive 37.6 percent to 6,326 units. Zero-emission battery electric vehicles now account for one in 11 cars made in the UK.
Overall output was down 17,262 units against the same month last year, which itself was one of the worst Januarys on record when volumes were impacted by friction in the new post-Brexit trading arrangements, extended shutdowns and the pandemic.
The main reason for the overall fall in production in January was largely due to the sustained worldwide shortage of semiconductors. This was exacerbated by the loss of volume arising from a major plant closure in July 2021 and production variations caused by the changeover of some popular models.
Production of plug-in vehicles was far more positive. Along with the rise of battery electric vehicle production mentioned earlier, hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles also faired well. Combined, all electrified vehicles accounted for more than a quarter of output (27.4 percent). This was up from 25.4 percent in 2021.
Mike Hawes, 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.
“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.”
Reflecting on the challenging start to the year, independent expectations for UK car production have been revised downwards. The future of electric vehicle production is more positive, however, following confirmations from several manufacturers to expand electric vehicle production in the UK.