CEO Update

Electric provides light despite dark start to the year

25 February 2022 #CEO Update

In another torrid start to the year for automotive production in the UK, we witnessed the weakest performing January since the global financial crisis in 2009. Production of cars fell by -20.1% and engine output by -15.9%, with only commercial vehicle manufacturing recording growth – although on the back of an exceptionally tough 2020.

While the global shortage of semiconductors, a by-product of the pandemic, was the primary cause of the declines, these deficits were exacerbated by the loss of volume from a major plant closure in the summer and production variation arising from the changeover of some popular models.

If the sector is to make a long-term recovery, global competitiveness must be assured, and for that we must address both inflationary and fixed costs, most obviously escalating energy prices, but also fiscal and trading costs. Every measure must be taken if we are to secure a bright, electrified future for our world-class automotive manufacturing base and the high skilled, high value jobs it creates across Britain.

There was some brighter news for the sector in the week, with production of battery electric vehicles rising by more than a third to account for one in 11 cars made in the UK. When combined with hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, more than a quarter of the month’s output was electrified. This signals the direction In which our sector is headed, and recent investment announcements from Britishvolt, Ford, Lotus, Nissan and Stellantis, amongst others, are testament to the potential for future growth.

Ensuring the electric vehicles of the future are engineered and produced in Britain will be one of the core themes of SMMT’s Electrified on 23 March. With keynote speeches from both industry and government, we hope that you will be able to join us for SMMT’s first fully in-person event since the pandemic began. For more information on panels and speakers, and to register, click here.

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