UK car production was stable in the first month of 2023, with January output down just 0.3% to 68,575 units, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The loss, equivalent to just 215 fewer cars, was driven chiefly by structural changes, reflecting a move from car to van making at one major plant, but with supply chain shortages still afflicting some manufacturers.

The ongoing shift to electrified car production continued, with combined battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicle volumes up 49.9% to 28,329 units. They represented more than four in every 10 (41.3%) cars made in January, a near record monthly share, and further evidence of the UK’s capability in making these important models, most of which (77.0%) are exported to meet global demand.

Production for the UK rose 5.6% to 12,196 units, while exports declined by 1.5%, largely due to the suspension of shipments to Russia, which accounted for 83.6% of the loss. In total, some 56,379 cars – more than eight in 10 of all those produced – were destined for overseas markets, with over half of these (56.6%) for the EU, with next most important global destinations the US (9.3%), China (8.8%), Japan (4.4%) and Australia (3.3%).

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Automotive manufacturing can drive long-term growth for the low carbon economy but the sector needs competitive conditions to attract investment. Recent global developments, however, suggest increasing protectionism which, if not challenged or mitigated, could put the UK at a disadvantage.

“To deliver a wholesale industrial transformation we need a competitive framework and a pitch that promotes advanced vehicle manufacturing internationally. We now look to the forthcoming Budget for the necessary measures that will enable the automotive sector to deliver its undoubted potential.”

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