SMMT News UK Manufacturing

Car production down as sector calls on next government to enhance competitiveness

30 May 2024 #SMMT News #UK Manufacturing
  • UK car manufacturing output falls -7.0% in April as factories retool for an electric future.
  • 61,820 cars roll off production lines with output for the UK up 19.8% as exports fall -12.7%.
  • Ahead of general election, SMMT’s Manifesto 2030 sets out steps for next government to secure future success for UK Automotive on road to zero emissions.

UK car manufacturing output fell by -7.0% in April, down to 61,820 units, according to new figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). It was the second consecutive monthly decline, reflecting factory adjustments in preparation for next generation models and their electrified powertrains.

Output for the UK – at 14,021 units – rose 19.8% but failed to offset a -12.7% decline in production for overseas buyers to 47,799 units, with nearly eight in 10 cars made shipped to global markets. The European Union took the majority of car exports (55.8%) followed by the US (15.2%), China (5.4%), Turkey (4.2%) and Australia (2.8%). Shipments to the US and Turkey rose, with those to the EU, China and Australia all experiencing double digit declines.

Electrified vehicle (battery electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid) volumes represented 40.5%, up from 37.7%, of all production with manufacturers producing a combined 25,031 units, a modest 0.1% rise on the previous year, constrained by the transition of factories to new models and technology.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Another month of falling UK car production was expected given the significant transformation underway within factories as manufacturers retool to produce new models. Keeping this progress on track is essential and requires favourable industrial and market conditions. With a general election in a matter of weeks, the next government must ensure the conditions are right not just for the competitiveness of UK manufacturing, but for the investment required to transition the sector to a net zero future.

Ahead of the general election, SMMT is calling for the next government to adopt five key pledges set out in its Manifesto 2030 as part of a dedicated industrial strategy.1 These include delivering low cost zero carbon energy, ensuring a skilled workforce fit for the future, securing free trade deals with existing and emerging markets, and backing the domestic market for new electric vehicles. Doing so would bolster the sector’s competitiveness and, given the regional importance of automotive manufacturing sites, drive economic growth and job prosperity across the country while delivering on environmental ambitions.

UK car manufacturing output is now down -0.8% on 2023 volumes in the year to date, with more than a quarter of a million (284,191) units produced. Exports have fallen -8.7% to 209,458 units, while production for the UK is up 31.0% to 74,733 units. The latest independent production outlook expects UK car and light van production to fall -6.2% to some 940,000 units this year, before returning to growth in 2025 and surpassing a million units from 2026 before reaching 1.2 million later this decade.2

Notes to editors

1: Manifesto 2030: Automotive Growth for a Zero Emission Future – published June 2023
2: Based on AutoAnalysis independent Production Outlook report, March 2024

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