The pandemic continues to impact UK car production - both for the home and overseas markets

The pandemic continues to impact UK car production - both for the home and overseas markets

UK car production fell 14.0% year-on-year in February, with 105,008 units produced, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said the decline was the 18th consecutive month of decline and the weakest February performance in more than a decade as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic shuttered UK showrooms. It also said new customs processes and global supply chain constraints continued to influence output.

Production for the domestic market fell 34.9% compared with a less severe 8.1% fall in exports.

Overseas orders still accounted for by far the majority (83.2%) of all cars made in the month, with most of these (53.9%) heading into the EU.

February shipments to the US and Asia combined amounted to 30.9% of all UK car exports.

On a positive note, the recent strong growth in UK output of battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid vehicles (HEV) continued in February, with total production of these vehicle surging 25.3% to 23,019 units.

The SMMT noted the sector is now gearing up for the reopening of UK retailers on 12 April, but it is also mindful of the new lockdown measures coming into force in many parts of Europe.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "A year into the pandemic, these figures are yet more evidence of how badly coronavirus has hit UK car production. Thankfully, there are some rays of light with UK showrooms due to reopen on 12 April, vaccinations progressing and a roadmap to kickstart the economy. The automotive sector can play a crucial role in getting the UK back on its feet, supporting jobs across the country, driving growth and helping the country transition to zero emission mobility. However, the UK is not isolated from global issues and our automotive industry still needs a stable and secure international market in order to prosper."

UK car production is forecast at 1.05 million units for 2021, up 15.8% on the year before, which was, however, the worst annual total since 1984. With the right conditions in place, the SMMT said UK car production could hit 1.1 million in 2022, with the potential for additional growth but still below the 1.3 million units turned out in 2019 pre-pandemic.

UK car production, February 2021

Feb 20Feb 21% ChangeYTD-20YTD-21% Change
Total122,171105,008-14.0240,485191,060-20.6
Home27,16917,689-34.947,60834,381-27.8
Export95,00287,319-8.1192,877156,679-18.8
% export77.883.2NA80.282.0NA

Source: SMMT