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May 29, 2020

UK car output down 99.7% in April

UK car manufacturing plunged by a staggering 99.7% in April as the COVID-19 crisis halted production at UK factories.

By Sam Duke

UK car manufacturing plunged by a staggering 99.7% in April as the COVID-19 crisis halted production at UK factories.

Data from the SMMT showed that just 197 cars were made in Britain during the whole month.

Carmakers instead turned out more than 700,000 pieces of PPE, including face shields, visors and gowns, to support the UK's healthcare workers.

The SMMT said it was the lowest monthly car output result since Second World War and it leaves year-to-date production down 27.6%.

It is now expected that annual production of cars in the UK this year will be below 1m units (1.3m units in 2019). The SMMT now expects sub-1 million units of UK car production for 2020 with lost production costing sector up to GBP12.5bn.

The exceptional month follows a particularly weak April 2019, when volumes fell 44.5% year on year due to temporary shutdowns as manufacturers sought to mitigate the impact of an expected end-March Brexit.

Although the UK's 168,000 automotive manufacturing employees are now starting to return to work, with around half of the country's car and engine plants set to be operating by the end of May, factories  are scaling up production along different timescales and, with strict social distancing measures in place, output initially will be restricted with a predicted loss of up to some 400,000 units by year end, compared with the January outlook, and a cost to industry of up to £12.5 billion at factory gate prices.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "With the UK's car plants mothballed in April, these figures aren't surprising but they do highlight the tremendous challenge the industry faces, with revenues effectively slashed to zero last month. Manufacturers are starting to emerge from prolonged shutdown into a very uncertain world and ramping up production will be a gradual process, so we need government to work with us to accelerate this fundamentally strong sector's recovery, stimulate investment and safeguard jobs. Support to get all businesses through this short-term turmoil will ensure the UK's many globally-renowned brands can continue to make the products that remain so desirable to consumers the world over and, in turn, help deliver long-term prosperity for Britain."

The UK is partially lifting the COVID-19 lockdown and dealerships in England will be allowed to open from next week. 

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