UK engine production fell 40% year on year in March 2020 as the coronavirus lockdown hit output.

The auto industry managed to churn out 146,615 engines before plants were shut in the second half of the month.

Production for UK built vehicles fell 35.7% to 55,301 with exports down 42.4% to 91,314.

Year to date production was off 17.1% to 598,963 engines with 59.4% (355,636, down 24%) exported.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "These figures show the significant impact of coronavirus-led shutdowns on automotive plants across the UK, with the closure of markets worldwide affecting the entire sector.

"However, attention is now turning to the safe restart of vehicle production, which, providing the end-consumer is ready, will drive engine demand. We need government support and coordination, however, to implement a clear plan for all for so that the industry can get back to delivering for the UK economy again."

Ford, a major engine maker in the UK with plants in England and Wales, said earlier this week it planned to restart production at most of its main continental European vehicle and engine plants from 4 May.

However, there were no resumption dates for the Dagenham and Bridgend engine factories as the UK was still in lockdown and central and regional governments had yet to detail an exit strategy or timing. Two days on, they still haven't. Some car plants are, however, proceeding with cautious reopening steps.