The latest manufacturing figures this week highlight the ongoing headwinds the UK automotive industry is facing. While the impact of the ‘pingdemic’ will begin to lessen due to the rules surrounding self-isolation changing, the worldwide shortage of semiconductors continues to impact production volumes.
July car manufacturing levels decreased by -37.6% in July – the first fall since February – with some car makers opting to bring forward their planned summer closures to try and deal with the situation. Likewise, the lack of cars being made has meant that demand for engines has fallen, leading to the production of engines declining by -27.5% in July.
There was some positive news, however, with more than a quarter of all cars made in July either battery electric, plug in hybrid or hybrid electric – their highest share on record. This means that since the start of 2021 over 126,000 of these important products have left factory lines.
Amidst the tough environment, the sector is doing what it can to keep production lines going, testament to the adaptability of its workforce and manufacturing processes. However, this is a global issue with OEMs around the world announcing production stoppages and the immediate future is unclear as cases rise in regions which produce these vital parts.
Government can help, however, by continuing the various supportive Covid measures currently in place and, longer term, boosting our competitiveness with a reduction in energy levies and business rates for a sector that is strategically important in delivering net zero.
Elsewhere, commercial vehicle production increased for the fifth consecutive month, rising by 7.5% in July, although the market is still below where we need it to be. With the sector continuing its steady recovery, manufacturers are investing in new zero emission capable vehicles that support operator and driver needs. The pace of this transformation will help ensure the UK solidifies its status as an attractive and competitive destination for commercial vehicle manufacturing.
Decarbonising commercial vehicles will be just one topic at next week’s Commercial Vehicle Show – the first in-person UK automotive industry trade show since the pandemic began – held at the NEC in Birmingham between 31 August to 2 September. There is still time to register for tickets which you can do here and I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.