As we begin the festive break, UK car and commercial vehicle production is seeing out the year in more positive fashion and offering some Christmas cheer to manufacturers, as new figures published today by SMMT show car manufacturing output has grown in six of the last seven months, while CV output has increased in every month this year.
Car production rose 5.7% to 80,091 units in November, while CV output grew by 42.9%, with 11,343 units rolling off British factory lines, marking the highest total output for the month since 2011. Although car volumes are still below pre-pandemic levels, recent consistency in rising output brings renewed hope that this sector can get on track in 2023, delivering growth and sustaining jobs.
Measures are needed, however, to ensure Britain remains a competitive location for production, trade and investment, particularly at this critical juncture on the road to net zero, with global brands deciding where to make their next zero emission models. We must alleviate the UK’s crippling long-term energy costs, reform business rates to encourage rather than penalise investment, create a national skills platform and drive faster rollout of charging infrastructure. An appropriate action plan would help boost investment in vehicle, battery and fuel cell production, support electrified supply chains and deliver the incentives and infrastructure needed to drive a healthy zero emission vehicle market.
As we near the start of 2023, the timeframe to act is closing, with just one year before EU-UK Rules of Origin get tougher, threatening tariff-free trade of in-demand electric vehicles; a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate coming but unclear; and gigafactories expanding rapidly across Europe, but more slowly in Britain.
UK Automotive has strong foundations on which to build: we have world class expertise in vehicle manufacturing, thanks to a productive workforce, globally renowned brands and some of the brightest R&D minds anywhere. We are traditionally a strong and dynamic new vehicle market that embraces new technologies – and we are amongst the most innovative, from OEMs to aftermarket, supply chains to services. So we approach 2023 with cautious optimism. Having been slow out of the blocks after the lockdown period, the sector could outperform an economy in recession next year, with production volumes set to grow as supply chain shortages slowly ease.
Predicting the future has proven harder than ever given global turbulence, but SMMT will continue to work with its members to promote and defend the UK automotive sector, supporting not just a recovery but a vibrant future.
So I hope you all get to enjoy the Christmas period, as there will be no time to waste in 2023. SMMT Update will return on Friday 6 January.